Create a free Diverse: Issues In Higher Education account to continue reading

Research Roundup: Affirmative Action Opponents Not Necessarily Racist

New research suggests that opponents of affirmative action are usually concerned about their own group’s well-being, and not because they’re racist.

“It may be that someone would support a policy that helps women, Blacks or Latinos, for example, but fears that an affirmative action policy might hurt his group,” says Dr. Brian S. Lowery, the co-author of a series of studies and an associate professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University’s business school.

The studies, recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, were conducted by Lowery; Dr. Miguel M. Unzueta from the University of California, Los Angeles; Dr. Eric D. Knowles from UC-Irvine; and Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff from Pennsylvania State University.

In one of the studies, White participants were presented with four affirmative action policies: hiring a minority, even if a White were more qualified; hiring a minority as a “tiebreaker” where two candidates were equally qualified; providing training to minority applicants to help them become better qualified, but not basing hires on race; and focusing on increasing minority applicants, but not basing hires on race.

Lowery found that the more Whites felt the policy helped minorities, the more they were willing to support it — but only when they thought it would not hurt members of their own group.

“It appears from these results that people can separate out the issues of helping minorities and hurting Whites, showing that racism isn’t always the issue,” says Lowery.

What’s missing, he says, is the recognition that, in some situations, one group’s disadvantage is another group’s advantage. Reducing unfair discrimination against Blacks will increase their representation and simultaneously reduce the representation of Whites.

A second study looked at Black and White responses to affirmative action. Participants were asked to rate the fairness of the policy and the degree to which being White was an important part of their own identity. The higher participants scored on White-group identity measures, the less supportive they were of the affirmative action policy when they were told the policy reduced the percentage of White employees.

However, the group that was told how the policy benefited Blacks did not show differences in their response to the policy, regardless of how White-group identified they were.

The studies show that everyone has a stake in affirmative action. “It’s not as if Whites — and White men, in particular — are ‘outside’ and objectively evaluating such policies,” Lowery says. “Nor is it necessarily that they’re opposing these policies because they are expressing racist attitudes. Their concern about their group’s position and well-being can have an effect on how they respond — even if they may want to help minorities and women.”

Decline in Interracial Marriages Due to Immigration

Immigration has led to the decline of interracial and inter-ethnic marriage in the United States during the 1990s, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that the growing number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants to the United States led to more marriages within these groups and fewer marriages between members of these groups and Whites.

“These declines in intermarriages are a significant departure from past trends,” says Dr. Zhenchao Qian, a co-author of the study and a professor of sociology at The Ohio State University. “The decline reflects the growth in the immigrant population during the 90s — more native-born Asian Americans and Hispanics are marrying their foreign-born counterparts.”

The study, which appeared in a recent issue of American Sociological Review, also found that interracial marriages involving Blacks increased significantly during the 1990s, but was still behind other minorities.

Qian, who conducted the study with Cornell University professor Daniel Lichter, looked at U.S. Census data from 1990 and 2000. They examined married couples between the ages of 20 and 34 who identified themselves as White, Black, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or some combination.

“Our results showed that recent increases in cohabitation have gone hand-in-hand with increasing shares of interracial marriages,” Qian says.

For example, with Black men, intermarriages increased from 8.3 percent to 14.9 percent during the 1990s, while interracial cohabitation rates grew from 14.7 to 21.9 percent.

The study also found that education played a key role in defining who participated in interracial marriages. For example, native-born Hispanic women with college degrees were more than three times more likely to be in a marriage with Whites compared to their counterparts with less than high school education.  In general, rates of interracial marriage go up with increasing levels of education. But Blacks were the lone exception, as marriage rates with Whites remained unchanged regardless of education.

“Interracial marriages between African-Americans and Whites will continue to increase, but it will take a lot for Blacks to get near the levels of intermarriages seen by other minority groups,” Qian says.

Black Children Fare Worse When Sleep Deprived

Researchers at Auburn University have concluded that Black children and children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds fare worse in school than their counterparts when their sleep is disrupted.

According to Dr. Joseph A. Buckhalt, the lead author of the study and Auburn’s Wayne T. Smith Distinguished Professor, the results build on a small but growing literature demonstrating that poorer sleep in children is associated with lower performance on school-related tests.

“The findings are consistent with the idea that health-related disparities between different groups of American children have important consequences,” Buckhalt says. “In the context of these disparities, children are not at equal risk for cognitive difficulties when sleep is disrupted”

The study, published in a recent issue of Child Development, looked at 166 Black and White 8- and 9-year-olds from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. The children’s sleep habits were measured through activity monitors, sleep diaries and reports of sleep quality.

When children’s socioeconomic background was considered, Black and White children’s performance on cognitive tests was similar when they slept well, the study found. But when sleep was disrupted, Black children’s performance was worse.

Children from all socioeconomic backgrounds performed equally on tests when they slept well and had consistent sleep schedules. But when their sleep was disrupted, children from higher-income homes did better than children from lower-income homes.

The study does not address why Black children and all children from lower-income homes may be more vulnerable to the effects of sleep disruption.

—      By Diverse staff


There are currently 3 comments on this story. 

Click here to post a comment.

© Copyright 2005 by

The trusted source for all job seekers
We have an extensive variety of listings for both academic and non-academic positions at postsecondary institutions.
Read More
The trusted source for all job seekers