A Puzzle of Racial Attitudes: A Measurement Analysis of Racial Attitudes and Policy Indicators


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

In the 1970s and 1980s, researchers argued that a new dimension of racial prejudice, termed “symbolic racism” and later “racial resentment,” emerged among white Americans as their endorsement of traditional prejudice declined. Recently, Carmines, Sniderman, and Easter have challenged this conceptualization. Relying on American National Election Surveys data, they argue that racial resentment and the attitudes about racial policy that it presumably explains are part of the same latent construct (labeled racial policy attitudes). This conclusion undermines theories that racial prejudice among white Americans is a primary determinant of their continued opposition to racial policies. We replicate their analyses and test an alternative model using five additional samples. We find that an alternative model that specifies racial resentment as distinct from racial policy attitudes was a better fit to the data, and additionally, we find preliminary evidence that it is inappropriate to consider racial policy attitudes as a single dimension using traditional indicators.

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