Friday, February 22, 2019

Data: Are there racial differences in honesty?

Jussie Smollett is just the most recent case of the common phenomenon of minorities orchestrating a hate hoax. This raises the more general question whether racial/ethnic/religious groups differ in how much they value honesty.  General Social Survey respondents (all living in America) were asked how much they prioritize various qualities in children.  One of the qualities is honesty.  Answers ranged from "most desirable" (5) to "least desirable (1)." 

I calculated means for various groups (N = 6,279):

Mean Honesty Score

Filipino  4.28
Japanese  4.25
Finnish  4.21
Portuguese  4.19
Dutch  4.15
Swiss  4.15
French Canadian  4.14
English/Welsh  4.12
Irish  4.12
Scotland  4.12
German  4.10
Chinese  4.08
Czech  4.08
French  4.08
Asian Indian  4.08 

Total Sample  4.08

Danish  4.06
Norwegian  4.05
Italian  4.02
Austrian  4.00
Lithuanian  3.97
Swedish  3.95
American Indian  3.92
Belgian  3.92
Polish  3.92
Spanish  3.92
Jewish  3.90
Hungarian  3.87
Russian  3.79
Romanian  3.79
Black  3.78
Mexican  3.76
West Indian  3.65
Greek  3.47

Certain minorities -- Jews, blacks, Mex-Ams, and West Indians -- have low honesty scores. The difference between the most honest (Filipinos) and least honest (Greeks) is close to one standard deviation, a very large difference.

There is a tendency for southern and eastern Europeans to value honesty less, while northwestern Europeans and Asians tend to have higher means (though there are exceptions).  (I didn't have enough cases of Muslims or Arabs to calculate estimates.)

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