Sunday, February 20, 2011

Racial solidarity and psychological health

The MIDUS Study asked people how closely they identify with their race. Answers ranged from "very strongly" to "not at all." I correlated the answers with various psychological measures about how often you felt a certain way in the past 30 days:


Whites (sample size = 3,530-4,354)
Sad -.02
Hopeless -.01
Worthless -.01
In good spirits -.01
Peaceful .00
Felt belonging -.02
Felt proud -.05
Felt confident .02

All emotions are unrelated to race loyalty. Your first reaction might be that there is not enough variation in white identity to allow a correlation: few whites identify with their race. I was surprised myself at the distribution:

Percent who identify with race

Very closely 46.2
Somewhat close 36.1
Not very close 8.2
Not at all 9.5

All I can say is, wow.  I say wow because the GSS has led me to believe that whites don't care about race. When asked if they identify with their ethnic group versus just being an American, 95 percent of whites answer just American. But when asked about race identity without opposing it against an American identity, 82 percent of whites say yes (very close or somewhat close). A very different picture. Anyway, getting back to the previous issue, there is plenty of variation here.

Perhaps the absence of correlations is due to the fact that white consciousness is currently stigmatized. Let's look at blacks:

Blacks (sample size = 141-225)
Sad -.04
Hopeless -.04
Worthless .06
In good spirits .13
Peaceful -.08
Felt belonging -.07
Felt proud .09
Felt confident -.01

Basically the same story. According to MIDUS, there is no psychological payoff to racial solidarity.

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