Saturday, March 27, 2010

Race, social class, and traditionalism

A traditionalism score was computed for white MIDUS Study participants based on the following items: endorses high moral standards; endorses religious values and institutions; expresses positive regard for parents; endorses strict child-rearing practices; values conventional propriety and a good reputation; opposes rebelliousness and unrestricted freedom of expression; condemns selfish disregard of others.

The following list displays the means by sex and social class (sample size = 3,976):

Mean traditionalism score 

Low 8.24*
Middle 8.00*
High 7.20

Low 8.82*
Middle 8.21*
High 7.70

*significantly higher than high-status men

Except for high-status women, all categories have significantly higher means than high-status men.  The gap between low- and high-status men is about half of a standard deviation (sd)--a fairly large difference. Same with the gap for low- and high-status women. Lower class folks are definitely more traditional. Notice how women are as well.

Let's look at racial means next:

Mean traditionalism score

White 8.06
Black 8.61
Amerindian 8.57
Asian 6.57
Mexican 8.14


White 8.57*
Black 9.22*
Amerindian 8.50
Asian 7.19
Mexican 8.69

*significantly higher than white males

Sample sizes for minority groups are small, so there are few significant differences. The means for white men and black women are significantly different, however, with a fairly large gap of one-half of an sd. Traditionalism is more pronounced among the socially lower orders.

The heritability of traditionalism, by the way, is estimated to be 60 percent.


  1. Anonymous11:22 AM

    Um, how do you reconcile the high traditionalism scores for blacks and Mexicans with their proclivity toward decidedly un-traditional social dysfunction?

    And I suppose the flip side is the relatively low traditionality scores for Asians, despite being far less dysfunctional than any other group listed. Statistically, Asians might be suspicious of traditionalism, but their societies are very traditional indeed.

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