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Racial, Ethnic Prejudice Still Prevalent, Survey Finds

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Education can play a significant role in countering the racial prejudice that remains strong among whites and other Americans, according to the director of a survey on racial attitudes issued last week by the National Opinion Research Center.

Norc, an affiliate of the University of Chicago, found that, while support for racial equality has grown, "negative images of members of other racial and ethnic groups are widespread among whites."

Although support for school busing increased from 14 percent to 29 percent among whites between 1970 and 1990, "many whites believe blacks and other minorities are more violence-prone, less hard-working, less intelligent, less likely to be self-supporting, and less patriotic than whites," a summary of the survey noted.


Whites are not the only biased people, however, according to Tom W. Smith, a Norc survey director.

The survey results showed that "most groups have at least some prejudice against all the other groups," Mr. Smith said last week. But education helps in eradicating such attitudes, he said."

"Education is one of the strongest" influences toward a person "having positive, or at least neutral, attitudes toward others," Mr. Smith observed. A general college program, including liberal-arts studies, is particularly beneficial, he added.

Moreover, he argued, "if you increase education in general" and emphasize tolerance and the history and contributions of diverse cultures, stereotyping declines.

But while some high-school cultural-diversity courses are good, others are inadequate, he added. "On the high-school level, I think many of these courses are seen as shallow and artificial," he said.

Survey respondents were asked to rank the personality and behavioral characteristics of whites, blacks, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Jews, and white Southerners. The data on white Americans revealed that 78 percent consider blacks more inclined to "prefer to live off welfare" and less likely to "prefer to be self-supporting" than whites; 62 percent thought blacks less likely to be hard-working; 56 percent thought blacks more violence-prone; 53 percent thought blacks less intelligent; and 51 per cent thought blacks less patriotic.

Among non-Hispanics (whites, blacks, and Asians), the survey found, 74 percent thought Hispanics more likely to prefer to live off welfare, 56 percent thought Hispanics more likely to be lazy, 50 percent thought Hispanics more likely to be violence-prone, 55 percent thought Hispanics less likely to be as intelligent, and 61 percent thought them less likely to be as patriotic.

The survey results also indicate that people with negative stereotypes are more likely to oppose school or residential integration.

"This survey tells us in no uncertain terms that the American racial dilemma lives on," observed Lawrence Bobo, a sociologist at the University of California at Los Angeles who worked on the survey.

Copies of the survey are available from Norc, 1155 East 60th St., Chicago, Ill. 60637; (312) 753-7500.

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