Sunday, March 23, 2008

Do minorities feel that they have more in common with each other or with whites? The question of assimilation is one of the concerns of this blog. The General Social Survey asked more than 1,200 Americans with whom they had the most in common (other than their own group): whites, Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, all equally, or nothing in common with any of them. Here are the percentages (those who broke the rules and indicated their own group are not listed):

Percent distribution

Whites 31.2
Equal in common with all groups 17.4
Hispanics 16.5
Nothing in common 8.3
Jews 3.7
Asians 3.7

Whites 44.4
Blacks 22.2
Asians 4.4
Equal in common with all groups 2.2
Jews 0.0
Nothing in common 0.0

Whites 25.7
Equal in common with all groups 22.2
Blacks 14.3
Asians 8.6
Nothing in common 5.7
Hispanics 0.0

Update: Whites
Equal in common with all groups 17.9
Jews 16.8
Blacks 16.5
Hispanics 14.2
Asians 8.5
Nothing in common 7.5

First, we can see that the largest percentage in all three groups say they are most like whites. This suggests that more minorities see themselves as more connected to the mainstream than to other minorities. Look, for example, at how no Hispanics or Jews think they have a lot in common. Some blacks and Hispanics do think they have the most in common: this is probably due to the fact that they are both poor minority groups.

And look at these PC robots who can't even admit that some groups are more like them than others.

Jews are interesting because one might predict that most of them would answer white since almost all of them self-identify as white, but more blacks and Mexicans than Jews think they have a lot in common with whites! A noticeable number of Jews feel they are very much like blacks: presumably, these folks are thinking of histories of abuse by white Christians.


  1. Here
    I discussed group differences in music style and cognitive profile (more verbal, more spatial, or balanced).

    The imaginary link that some Jews see between themselves and Blacks, vs. no Jews linking themselves with Hispanics, probably has something to do with both groups doing much better on verbal than spatial skills.

    They both appreciate jazz more than do most other groups (jazz being mostly about melody rather than harmony).

    Both groups also love to argue, again reflecting how verbal they are. Also reflecting this is both groups' overrepresentation among stand-up comedians.

    Arthur Hu's site shows that most Native American groups are more spatial, so they don't participate much in the stuff above.

  2. Ernie6:13 AM

    The wording of the question is unclear as to whether white Jews are even allowed to pick whites. So I wouldn't read too much into the Jewish responses.

  3. It would be interesting to see how Asians would respond to this question. My strictly unscientific guess, based mainly on the Asians I've know, is that "Equal in common with all groups" would be the leading selection, possibly by a large margin.

  4. Anonymous11:25 AM

    I want to see the white and asian results.

  5. anon: I added numbers for whites. There aren't enough Asian cases, but it does look like Chinese and Japanese folks think they have most in common with whites, while Filipinos say Hispanics.

  6. I would have thought Jews had a lot in common with Asians.


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