Does race matter in neighborhood preferences? Results from a video experiment

AJS. 2009 Sep;115(2):527-59. doi: 10.1086/599248.

Abstract

Persistent racial residential segregation is often seen as the result of preferences: whites prefer to live with whites while blacks wish to live near many other blacks. Are these neighborhood preferences color-blind or race conscious? Does neighborhood racial composition have a net influence upon preferences, or is race a proxy for social class? This article tests the racial proxy hypothesis using an innovative experiment that isolates the net effects of race and social class, followed by an analysis of the social psychological factors associated with residential preferences. The authors find that net of social class, the race of a neighborhood's residents significantly influenced how it was rated. Whites said the all-white neighborhoods were most desirable. The independent effect of racial composition was smaller among blacks, who identified the racially mixed neighborhood as most desirable. Further, whites who held negative stereotypes about African-Americans and the neighborhoods where they live were significantly influenced by neighborhood racial composition. None of the proposed social psychological factors conditioned African-Americans' sensitivity to neighborhood racial composition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Attitude*
  • Chicago
  • Choice Behavior*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Prejudice
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Social Class