STUDY: White Students See Asian-Americans as More Competent Than Blacks, Latinos

By Kenrya Rankin Jan 19, 2016

A new study proves the model minority stereotype is alive and well on some American college campuses. 

For “Exceptional Outgroup Stereotypes and White Racial Inequality Attitudes Toward Asian Americans,” researchers combed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshman, which polled students entering the college class of 1999. They used a sample of 898 non-Hispanic whites from 27 elite universities. Per the study: “Arguably, many of these respondents come largely from environments of privilege and will likely have significant influence in many quarters of American society. Knowing their attitudes about race will illuminate our understanding of the attitudes of the future ruling class.” Researchers are from Baylor University, Providence College, University of Southern California, University of Maryland and Rice University.

The work focused on respondents’ answers to questions about Asian-Americans, Blacks and Latinos, particularly their perceived competence surrounding work ethic, intelligence and perseverance, as well as how easy it is to get along with people in each group. The result: The young White students surveyed felt that Asian-Americans are more competent than Blacks and Latinos. And those who perceived the group as better were also more likely to agree with statements like, “Blacks need to work harder to move up.”

“That kind of statement is about whether responsibility for racial differences in upward mobility is a result of natural tendencies—as opposed to structural inequities in educational opportunity, access to good health care, jobs and other areas,” Jerry Park, an associate professor of sociology in Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences said in a press release sent to Colorlines. “Now we have some concrete evidence that some white people tend to think that. We were able to show that a stereotype has some impact.”

The study also sought to make a link between how Whites perceived warmth among people of color, but it found no relationship between how they felt about Asians and how easy they thought it was to get along with Latinos and Blacks.