As the definition of “All-American” changes with the increasing move towards a minority-majority nation, White Americans may view diversity and multiculturalism more negatively, according to a recent study by UCLA psychologists.
Researchers randomly separated the participants—Whites of both genders from all regions of the country—into two groups. One group was told that Whites will no longer be a majority of the population by 2050. Another group was told that Whites will maintain their majority status at least through 2050. They were then asked a series of questions on their views on diversity.
“We see a significant reduction in the endorsement of diversity when White Americans are exposed to current projections of future demographics,” said Felix Danbold, a UCLA psychology doctoral student and the paper’s lead author, in a statement. “Most Americans view diversity in positive terms, but many White Americans who see the actual demographic projections, and the loss of their majority status, end up being less enthusiastic about it.”
The results reflect White Americans’ fears that demographic changes threaten their status as the most prototypical ethnic group in America, i.e., that they are what it means to be “All-American,” researchers said.
“Whites have long benefited from being seen as the ethnic group that best represents what it means to be American,” said Yuen Huo, UCLA professor of psychology and the study’s senior author. “Thinking about a future in which Whites are no longer a numerical majority threatens this claim to the American identity and, we have found, results in a reluctance to embrace diversity and greater support for newcomers to assimilate to American society.”
Support for diversity also fell along ideological and gender lines. Democrats and independents were more inclined to endorse diversity than Republicans. And women more likely to support diversity than men.
The report, “No Longer ‘All American’? Whites’ Defensive Reactions to Their Numerical Decline,” was published on the website of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science and will appear in a print edition later this year.