Method: A cross-sectional survey invitation was sent to MSW students in 16 of 22 California MSW programs in April 2018. The sample included 647 MSW students (response rate of 16.5% across all students invited). All respondents received the Colorblind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS) and demographic measures. White students received the Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites Scale (PCRW) and the Anti-Racism Behavioral Inventory (ARBI). Students of color responded to the Perceived Ethnic Discrimination Questionnaire (PEDQ), the Stereotype Confirmation Concern Scale (SCCS), and the People of Color Racial Identity Attitudes Scale (PRIAS). Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted on the CoBRAS between five racial categories: Latinx (n=289), White (n=138), Black (n=78), Asian (n=75), and Multiracial (n=56). Pearson R correlations were used to examine the strength of associations between the CoBRAS and PRCW for White students; and to examine the strength of associations between CoBRAS, PEDQ, PRAIS, and SCCS for students of color.
Results: No statistically significant difference was detected between the five racial groups on the CoBRAS. For White students, participation in anti-racist behaviors were negatively correlated with higher scores on colorblind ideology (p < .001). White students’ anti-racist behaviors were also positively correlated with higher scores on PRCW measures of empathy and guilt (p < .001). Conversely, White students’ anti-racist behaviors were negatively associated with increased fear of people of color (p < .001). For students of color, CoBRAS scores were positively correlated with conformity and negatively correlated with immersion (p < .001). Stereotype confirmation was also associated increased desire to conform to dominant culture (as measured by PRIAS sub-scales of immersion, dissonance, and conformity) (p < .001).
Implications:Students across racial groups scored similarly on colorblind ideology. However, responses to these beliefs impacted them in different ways. For White students, a combination of empathetic understandings of racial privilege, and a willingness to address fears of people of color may help to increase engagement in anti-racist behaviors. For students of color, higher levels of colorblind ideology impacted their own racial identities. The relationship between stereotype threat and racial identities also suggests students of color experience pressure to conform to the dominant culture. These findings suggest a need to further uniquely address dimensions of MSW students’ experiences and perspectives across various racial groups. Educational strategies and interventions can use this knowledge to advance pedagogy toward racial equity and justice. Subsequent analysis (in this symposium) will also look at student of color subgroups to better understand their unique experiences.