Positive, negative and ambivalent: Attitudes toward white Americans as held by ethnic minorities in the US

Jes L. Matsick, Terri D. Conley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Intergroup relations are, by definition, a two-way process, yet the perspectives of minority group members have been given considerably less attention than the perspectives of dominant group members in social psychology (see Shelton, Alegre, and Son, 2010 for further discussion). For decades, researchers have explored the nature of white Americans' attitudes, opinions, stereotypes, and behaviors toward African Americans; however, ethnic minorities' perceptions of white Americans have been grossly understudied (Monteith and Spicer, 2000). The present research aims to diversify the perspectives and approaches that psychologists pursue to understand intergroup dynamics by investigating ethnic minorities' attitudes toward white Americans. In the current study, we surveyed 256 participants in the United States (95 African Americans/Blacks, 96 Asian Americans/Asians, 44 Latinas/os, and 21 individuals who identified as Native American or multiethnic) about their attitudes toward white Americans. Participants were asked to describe and explain their attitudes toward whites in an open-ended format. Following the procedures of Braun and Clarke (2006), two independent coders read and organized participants' responses by thematic content. Three major themes emerged (i.e., positive, negative, and ambivalent) and each included four minor themes. Results indicated differences in positive and negative attitudes toward white Americans among African Americans/Blacks (Positive, 33%; Negative, 45%; Ambivalent, 33%), Asian Americans/Asians (Positive, 55%; Negative, 32%; Ambivalent, 31%), and Latinas/os (Positive, 52%; Negative 32%; Ambivalent, 39%), and differences emerged in negative attitudes between male (Positive, 52%; Negative, 26%; Ambivalent, 39%) and female respondents (Positive, 40%; Negative, 42%; Ambivalent, 30%). Throughout our discussion of these themes, we provide excerpts of participants' responses and draw on extant social psychological theories to frame participants' attitudes. Lastly, we discuss additional trends and future directions for research on intergroup relations. In particular, we elucidate why research should evaluate minorities' perspectives and consider non-Black ethnic minority groups in the U.S. to better understand how to improve interracial relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEthnic Minorities
Subtitle of host publicationPerceptions, Cultural Barriers and Health Inequalities
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781634841924
ISBN (Print)9781634841917
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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