Richard Prince on Zogby Prejudice Poll

From Richard Prince’s Journal-isms Column on

Most Americans believe their fellow citizens hold strong biases against minorities, according to a poll of 10,387 American adults conducted by Zogby International.

The “Report Card on American Prejudice” is described as part of a wide-ranging effort by the Game Show Network, sponsors of the poll and of a new television show, “Without Prejudice,” to spur a national dialogue on intolerance and bigotry.

The poll showed: While 67 percent of respondents claimed to have no preference themselves between a white, black or Arab clerk in a convenience store, 71 percent said, “most Americans” would seek out the white clerk. Just 1 percent said Americans’ first choice would be to approach a black clerk, while less than 0.5 percent said the same for an Arab clerk.

And yet, 55 percent of respondents said race relations have improved over the past 10 years.

Other results on race (where respondents picked from among several races):

  • Seventy-three percent said in the event of a shooting, most Americans would expect African Americans to be involved
  • Fifty-five percent said in the event of a drug bust, most Americans would expect African Americans to be involved
  • Fifty-three percent said in the event of identity theft, most Americans would expect whites to be involved
  • Seventy percent said in the event of insurance fraud, most Americans would expect whites to be involved.

In other findings, African Americans (56 percent) were more likely than whites (39 percent), Hispanics (37 percent), or Asians (32 percent) to think Americans believe that sexual orientation is a voluntary choice.

Whites (44 percent) thought Americans believe Muslims are responsible for wars more than Hispanics (37 percent), Asians (34 percent), or African Americans (30 percent) do.

Pollster John Zogby said in a July 23 news release, “Over my years of polling, I’ve learned that Americans tend to offer socially acceptable responses when questioned on their own views about race and prejudice. That’s why in this poll we predominantly asked people about “most Americans'” views on race and prejudice. We believe this provides a far more accurate window into how people really think about these issues. Americans are more forthcoming when discussing the problem in the context of their neighbors’ lives than in the context of their own lives.”

In another recent study from Ohio State University at Mansfield, white participants were asked variations of the question: How much should you be paid to continue to live the remainder of your life as a Black person?

“Participants generally required low median amounts, less than $10,000, to make the race change, whereas they requested high amounts, $1,000,000, to give up television. To the extent that larger amounts were requested, support for reparations also increased. . . . Together, these results suggest that White resistance to reparations for Black Americans stems from fundamental biases in estimating the true cost of being Black,” it said.

Full Zogby report (PDF)

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