Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

The Modern Racism toward Maori Scale

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

The Modern Racism toward Maori Scale

Article excerpt

A reader reviewing the research literature on racism in New Zealand for the first time could be forgiven for being confused as to how to appropriately measure people's racist attitudes toward Maori (the indigenous peoples of New Zealand). Maori form roughly 15% of the population (Statistics New Zealand, 2013), and experience inequality in a number of domains including poorer health outcomes, lower household income, poorer subjective well-being, and higher rates of incarceration (Ministry of Social Development, 2010; Department of Corrections, 2016; Sibley, Harre, Hoverd & Houkamau, 2011). Experiences of discrimination continue to be widely reported by Maori, and are associated with lower well-being (Houkamau, Stronge, & Sibley, 2017), while lower home-ownership rates among those with a self-perceived Maori appearance point to the presence of institutional racism (Houkamau & Sibley, 2015). There are many different self-report 'Likert-style' measures or proxies measuring racist attitudes toward Maori that have been employed in questionnaires over the years. These measures, including many of our own, are often developed ad hoc for a particular study, with only preliminary if any validation, and tend to be closely based on measures developed overseas to assess attitudes toward other ethnic groups (e.g., Duckitt, 2001; Duckitt & Sibley, 2007; Duckitt & Parra, 2004; Sibley & Liu, 2007, 2010; Sibley, Robertson & Wilson, 2006).

The many different measures commonly used to assess racism toward Maori share a theoretical framework insofar as they are typically designed to measure attitudes that fit Allport's (1954, p. 9) general definition of racism as 'an antipathy based upon a faulty and inflexible generalization. It may be directed toward [an ethnic] group as a whole, or toward an individual because he [sic] is a member of that group.' However, outside of this, the various measures used to measure individual differences in racism toward Maori in New Zealand are non-systematic and contain varying levels of overlap in their item content and focus. These idiosyncrasies in the measurement of racism toward Maori in questionnaire research make it difficult to compare and contrast results across studies, to track change in the level of racism over time by comparing sample means, and so forth. The ability to reliably measure and track levels of racism in this way is important for understanding how racism is expressed, which aspects may be more or less pervasive than others, and thus what interventions can be put in place to help reduce racist attitudes.

What is needed is the development of a systematic theoretical model and associated self-report questionnaire scale assessing modern racism toward Maori. Such a scale should capture the overall extent to which one may express affect and attitudes that are to the detriment of the well-being and equality of Maori in modern-day New Zealand. It should also reflect the content of expressions of racism toward Maori in everyday language and the media captured within qualitative research (e.g. Barnes et al., 2012; McCreanor, 1993; Nairn & McCreanor, 1990, 1991; Nairn, Pega, McCreanor, Rankine, & Barnes, 2006; Sibley, Liu, & Kirkwood, 2006; Wetherell & Potter, 1992) as well as in quantitative research. In our view, quantitative measures of racism toward Maori have under-capitalized on qualitative research to date. As a result, what we know about the qualitative expression of racism in New Zealand has not translated to its' reliable questionnaire measurement for use in quantitative research.

As such, the present research draws upon extant qualitative and quantitative literature to propose a ten-item self-report scale assessing Modern Racism toward Maori. We first provide a brief review of quantitative measures of modern racism in the United States, which are similar to, but have important contextual differences to measuring racism in New Zealand. …

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