African American children's racial attitudes and global self-worth

Valerie McLaughlin Crabtree


The primary purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between racial attitudes and global self-worth in African American children, particularly as a function of the race of examiner. Forty African American children, ages 8 through 14, were recruited from after-school and summer programs in Louisville, Kentucky. A female African American examiner interviewed twenty of the children, while a same-age female Caucasian examiner interviewed the other half of the children. The children's interracial attitudes were assessed with an adapted version of the Preschool Racial Attitudes Measure-II (PRAM II; Williams, Best, Boswell, Mattson, & Graves, 1975) and the Racial Identity Questionnaire (RIQ; Crabtree, Wagner, & Leach, 1998). Within-group racial attitudes were measured with the Porter Skin Tone Connotation Scale (Porter, 1985), and global self-worth was assessed by the Self-Perception Profile for Children (Harter, 1985). No relationship was found between children's in-group or out-group racial attitudes and their global self-worth. Furthermore, there was no significant impact of the race of the examiner on children's responses to measures of racial attitudes. There was a trend, however, toward children interviewed by the African American examiner expressing more counterstereotyped attitudes, defined as positive attitudes toward African Americans and negative attitudes toward Caucasians, than those interviewed by the Caucasian examiner. A subset of children had their responses to the RIQ qualitatively analyzed, and several children reported a belief that teachers exhibit racial bias in the classroom as a function of both the students' and teachers' race. Furthermore, a pattern emerged in which children who expressed stereotyped attitudes on the PRAM II exhibited a preference for future spouses and children with Caucasian features (e.g., lighter hair, skin, and/or eye color), while those who expressed more nonstereotyped attitudes on the PRAM II reported a wish to have future spouses and children with African American features. The implications of these findings for psychological practice are discussed, including the importance of children's resilience in the face of racism and the fact that no significant race of examiner effect on children's openness was found in this study.