Are College Students Colorblind? Associating Demographic Factors with Latent Racism

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kelsey Weiss (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: In the United States, people across social institutions increasingly perceive racism to be a thing of the past. Abundant research, however, demonstrates that racial bias by employers, and others, continues to take place. My study hypothesizes that race and racism still play an active role in shaping other dimensions of our society as well. I am particularly interested in whether or not latent racism exists among undergraduate college students and, if so, what demographic factors are associated with these racial attitudes. I designed a study that, using correspondence testing methodology, aims to investigate whether there is an association between these students’ roommate preferences and latent racism. Each participant in my study, based on their gender, randomly selected one of two fictitious roommate vignettes. On a scale of one to ten, the participant rated how likely he or she would be to choose said person as their roommate in a real life situation. The vignettes were carefully matched aside from the names, which will associate the fictitious roommate with being either white or African American. For this reason, aggregate differences in the participants’ rankings were interpreted as being linked to the potential roommate’s race. After rating the roommate, the participant filled out a six question demographic survey. I quantitatively investigated whether there is a relationship between participants’ demographic characteristics and the average ratings of the black and white roommates. Using statistical analysis, I found that, in my sample, the respondents’ race, religious affiliation, and college major played a significant role in roommate preferences. Investigating the extent to which latent racism continues to exist is necessary to evaluate the degree to which the prevailing assumption that “race no longer matters” is true. If people continue to perceive equality in an era where prejudice and discrimination continues, we are, in fact, allowing racism to endure. Researching the degree to which subconscious racial inequality continues to exist will allow us to work toward equality.

Additional Information

Weiss, Kelsey. 2015. Are College Students Colorblind? Associating Demographic Factors with Latent Racism. Unpublished manuscript, Honors College, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.
Language: English
Date: 2015
Gender, Racism, College students, Sociology, Religion, Political affiliation, Race

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