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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Webinar Details

The Elephant is Still in the Room: Racial Attitudes and Public Opinion

Maria Krysan, PhD and David Wilson, PhD
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
12:00 - 1:30 PM CDT/ 1:00 - 2:30 PM EDT/ 10:00 - 11:30 AM PDT

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Joint AAPOR/MAPOR webinar!

About This Course:

This course will examine different perspectives on measuring and understanding racial attitudes in surveys of public opinion. While volumes of social science research find racial attitudes are vital to understanding both racial and non-racial issues—as well as the practice of surveying the public (e.g., interviewing practices, and questionnaire design)—data collection and analysis of racial information in public opinion surveys is episodic at best. We will provide participants with an overview of the major trends in racial attitudes of whites and blacks in the United States, as documented by survey research beginning in the 1940s and extending up until today. We will review examples of subtle and overt racial attitudes, and provide examples of innovative approaches to measurement to uncover what they can reveal about this sensitive, complex, and critical area of social life.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain how the racial attitudes of whites and blacks have changed--or not--over the past 75 years or so.
  • List the different categories of racial attitudes: implicit/explicit, overt/subtle, prejudice/racism/discrimination and what survey research and survey-based experiments can reveal about them.
  • Identify and propose resources for researchers and journalists who seek to understand and report on racial attitudes and race relations.

About the Instructor:

AAPOR-October-Webinar_Photo_Krysan_small.gifMaria Krysan, PhD, is currently Head of the Department of Sociology and Professor at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Profesor Krysan’s research focuses on racial attitudes and racial residential segregation. Her investigations of these substantive issues often connect to methodological questions about how to study this sensitive area of social life. She combines standard closed-ended survey analysis with mode of administration experiments, analyses of open-ended survey questions, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. She is co-author (with Howard Schuman, Lawrence Bobo, and Charlotte Steeh) of the book Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretations (Harvard University Press, Revised Edition, 1997), and is responsible for a website that updates the data from that book. Krysan serves on the editorial board of Public Opinion Quarterly, and has been a member of the Board of Overseers of the General Social Survey.
AAPOR-October-Webinar_Photo_Wilson_small.jpgDavid C. Wilson, PhD, is currently the associate dean for the social sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware. He holds faculty positions Political Science and Internal Relations; Psychology; and Black American Studies. Professor Wilson’s research examines how survey experiments help to understand racial attitudes and other cognitive processes. He teaches courses in survey research methods, political psychology, and public opinion. Prior to his appointment at UD, he held senior positions with the Gallup Organization, and worked on several national surveys examining topics ranging from workplace creativity and engagement to prejudice in politics. Professor Wilson earned his bachelor’s degree in government from Western Kentucky University, MPA (public policy and administration) and MA (political science) degrees, and a PhD in political science, all from Michigan State University.