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ERIC Number: EJ745360
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Dec
Pages: 19
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7732
A Distorted Nation: Perceptions of Racial/Ethnic Group Sizes and Attitudes toward Immigrants and Other Minorities
Alba, Richard D.; Rumbaut, Ruben G.; Marotz, Karen
Social Forces, v84 n2 p901-919 Dec 2005
Using a special module (MEUS) of the 2000 General Social Survey, we investigate Americans' perceptions of the racial and ethnic composition of the United States. We show that, because of innumeracy, it is critical to gauge perceptions through relative, rather than absolute, group sizes. Even so, it appears that, as of 2000, roughly half of Americans believed that whites had become a numerical minority; such perceptions were even more common among minority-group members than among whites. Majority-group respondents' perceptions of the relative sizes of minorities affect their attitudes towards immigrants, blacks and Hispanics, with those having the most distorted perceptions holding the most negative attitudes. Although perceptions of group sizes in the nation are linked to the perceived racial/ethnic composition of the communities where respondents reside, the effects of the former on attitudes are largely independent of the latter. Our findings highlight the frequently overlooked value of an old bromide against prejudice: education.
University of North Carolina Press. 116 South Boundary Street, P.O. Box 2288, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2288. Tel: 800-848-6224; Tel: 919-966-7449; Fax: 919-962-2704; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: General Social Survey