The Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale

Background:

The Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale is a modern measure of symbolic racism, described as a coherent belief system combining the following ideas: that racial discrimination is no longer a serious obstacle to blacks’ prospects for a good life; that blacks’ continuing disadvantages are due totheir own unwillingness to take responsibility for their lives; and that, as a result, blacks’ continuing anger about their own treatment, their demands for better treatment, and the various kinds of special attention given to them are not truly justified (see Sears, van Laar, Carrillo, & Kosterman, 1997).

Psychometrics:

Each of the scales’ items reflects one of the four substantive themes of symbolic racism: work ethic and responsibility for outcomes, excessive demands, denial of continuing discrimination, and undeserved advantage. Most items were measured on a 4-point Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree), with the following exceptions: Items 1,2,5, and 12. The scale proves to be reliable and internally coherent. It has discriminant validity, being distinctively different from both older forms of racial attitudes and political conservatism, although with a base in both. It has predictive validity, explaining whites’ racial policy preferences considerably better than do traditional racial attitudes or political predispositions. Evidence is presented of its usefulness for both college student and general adult population samples, as well as for minority populations

Author of Tool:

Henry, P.

Key references:

Henry, P. J., & Sears, D. O.  (2002).  The symbolic racism 2000 scale.  Political Psychology, 23, 253-283.

Primary use / Purpose:

To measure symbolic racism.

Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale

  1. It's really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.
  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Irish, Italian, Jewish and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way Blacks should do the same.
  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Some say that black leaders have been trying to push too fast. Others feel that they haven't pushed fast enough. What do you think?
  • Trying to push very much too fast
  • Going too slowly
  • Moving at about the right speed
  1. How much of the racial tension that exists in the United States today do you think blacks are responsible for creating?
  • All of it
  • Most
  • Some
  • Not much at all
  1. How much discrimination against blacks do you feel there is in the United States today, limiting their chances to get ahead?
  • All of it
  • Most
  • Some
  • Not much at all
  1. Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower
  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they
  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more economically than they
  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

Instructions

  • The following is the standard procedure for combining the items into a scale:

After collecting the data, items 1, 2, 4, and 8 need to be recoded so that a 1 = 4, 2 = 3, 3 = 2, and 4 = 1.

Item 3 needs to be recoded so that 1 = 3, 2 = 1, and 3 = 2.

For combining the items into a scale, there are several options, ranging from the simplest to the most precise:

  1. One could simply add the raw scores together for each item, so that each individual has a score that could range from 8 to 31.
  2. To compensate for any missing data, one could average the raw
  3. To compensate for the differences in the number of response alternatives, one could recode each of the items on a 0 to 1 scale, so for item #3, a 1 = 1, 2 = 0, and 3 = .50, and for the other items the high response is a 1, the next a .66, the next a .33, and the low response is a 0. (This third technique is the one used in Henry & Sears, 2002.)
  4. To equate the variability across items, one could create standardized (z) scores for each of the items in the scale, then average the