The Relationship Between Social Attitudes and Race-Based Affirmative Action


Previous studies have assessed several dependent variables such as negative affect, competence, and fairness in order to find the relationship between the type of affirmative action, race, and the qualifications of the recipients (Doverspike & Arthur, 1995; Stanush et al. 1998). Only a small number of these studies have considered studying affirmative action attitudes from the theoretical perspectives of political ideology arn social dominance orientation.

The present study used a 2 (Hard versus Soft affirmative action) x 2 (Caucasian versus African-American applicant) factorial design. The experimental scenario involved both an African American and Caucasian applicant applying for a job. The Caucasian participants of the study served as employers of a fictitious company who evaluated the applicant bailed on hard or soft affirmative action policies and the race of the applicant.

There were three dependent variables: a measure of negative affect, a measure of competence, and a measure of fairness (Doverspike & Arthur, 1995). Participants were also adminis1ered a measure of political ideology (Fried, et al., 2001) and a measure of the social dominance orientation (Pratto, et al., 1994) to determine the interrelationship between these two measures and the three dependent variables. Several interesting findings were discovered during an analysis of the data. The ANCOVA for negative affect revealed a two-way interaction between the type of affirmative action administered and the race of the applicant. Affirmative action policies (hard vs. soft, did not influence negative affect when the job applicant was Caucasian. In contrast, when the applicant was African-American, the soft affirmative action policy led to greater negative affect than hard affirmative action. These findings suggest that a possible social desirability effect has taken place. Socially desirable responding is a response set geared to presenting oneself in a socially acceptable manner (Abram & Trusty, 2004). These findings have significant implications for attitudes toward affirmative action in the workplace.


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Thesis Completion





Wang, Alvin Y.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program



Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences; Affirmative action programs; Race relations







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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