In the last two decades, students of race relations in the United States have broadened their focus beyond exclusively studying historically disadvantaged groups, and have begun also to examine whites. Understanding what it means to be white requires knowledge about the advantages implicit in being a member of a society's dominant racial group. For example, people tend to perceive of whites as more trustworthy and competent than people from other racial groups, based on nothing more than skin color.
Julie Woodzicka will undertake two studies to better diagnose the prevalence of white privilege in American society. First, she will develop and validate a scale that will explore attitudes about white advantage among both whites and non-whites. This Belief in White Privilege Scale will examine participants' awareness of white privilege, and the impact it has on their lives. Woodzicka will administer the scale to college students from diverse backgrounds, and select those participants with the highest and lowest scores to participate in a subsequent study. This experiment will test whether making whites more knowledgeable of white privilege affects their attitudes about race-based policies at their respective schools. Woodzicka will present findings from this project to the annual meetings of the Society of Personality and Social Psychologists.