Methods: A subset (n= 1,845) of cross-sectional data from the 2016 General Social Survey (GSS), comprising a multistage probability sample of Americans (n= 2,867) was used for the study. Participants are Americans 18 years and older, who completed an in-home face-to-face survey or a computer-assisted telephone interview administered by a GSS interviewer. Hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to determine if occupation level and region of residence improved prediction of race as a primary factor influencing negative beliefs about the intelligence of blacks and African Americans, while controlling for education, income, age, and sex.
Results: At step 1, with race in the equation, R² = .02, F(1, 1563) = 23.558, p< .01, race significantly predicted negative beliefs about the intelligence of blacks and African Americans. Occupation level added at step 2 was not significant (R² = .00, Finc(1, 1563) = 1.059, p = .304). However, region of residence as locality-level control added to the prediction of negative beliefs about the intelligence of blacks and African Americans by race and occupation level (R² = .01, Finc(1, 1563) = 7.40, p = .01. Education, income, age and sex as individual-level controls did not add to the prediction of negative beliefs about the intelligence of blacks and African Americans by race, occupation level and region, R² = .00, Finc (4, 1560) = 1.610, p = .169, neither did the addition of interaction effects for race and occupation-level [R²= .00, Fincr (1, 1563) = 1.228, p = .268] . Main effects for race remained statistically significant after assessment for interaction effects with occupation level.
Conclusions and Implications: Although the variance in negative beliefs about the intelligence of blacks and African Americans accounted for by race is small, the findings have implications for social work practice and education. Much has been written about racism, and social work as a profession stands at the forefront of efforts to eradicate it. These efforts need to include an exploration of the uncritical acceptance of over-generalized beliefs about the intelligence of groups of people, and the negative attitudes that accompany these stereotypes. With genetics research indicating that intelligence is one of the best predictors of important life outcomes, the disproportionately high representation of blacks and African Americans among those unable to attain important life outcomes becomes interpreted as an innate intelligence problem rather than as a systemic problem.