Discrimination in the workplace

Material Information

Discrimination in the workplace the effect of subtle racism on black employee promotions
Gooden, Brett J
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
ix, 63 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Psychology, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:


Subjects / Keywords:
Discrimination in employment -- United States ( lcsh )
Racism -- United States ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Employment ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Promotions ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references.
General Note:
Department of Psychology
Statement of Responsibility:
by Brett J. Gooden.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
50741964 ( OCLC )
LD1190.L645 2002m .G66 ( lcc )

Full Text
Brett J. Gooden
B.B.A., Baylor University, 1992
B.A., Oklahoma State University, 1997
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Brett J. Gooden
has been approved
Donna Chrobot-Mason
ff// io^

Gooden, Brett J. (M.A., Psychology)
Discrimination in the Workplace: The Effect of Subtle Racism on Black Employee
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Donna Chrobot-Mason
Subtle racism toward Black employees continues to be a problem in the workplace
today. Locus of control was investigated as a possible predictor of subtle racism. In
addition, the effect of subtle racist views on employee promotion decisions was
examined. Two hundred forty-nine undergraduate and graduate students reviewed a
job description and evaluated seven candidates resumes. Their tasks included
choosing the three best candidates for the job and rating each candidates
qualifications. Results revealed a significant relationship between locus of control
and subtle racism. This finding suggests that individuals with an external locus of
control are more likely to possess intolerant views toward Blacks. In addition, subtle
racist attitudes were strongly associated with the promotion of fewer Blacks and
rating Black employees less qualified for a job. Limitations, future research, and
implications for organizational promotion policies are discussed.

This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Donna Chrobot-Mason

I dedicate this thesis to my family. I am especially grateful to three people: my
father, for his confidence in me; my mother, for the example she set for me; and
wife, for the endless support and encouragement she gave me.

First and foremost, I am grateful to the Lord for giving me the ability and
perseverance to complete this study. His presence in my life continues to be an
incredible source of strength in meeting lifes challenges.
I am also thankful to the United States Air Force for this opportunity. May
this experience allow me to better serve the Air Force throughout my career as a
personnel officer.
Ultimate thanks go to my advisor, Donna Chrobot-Mason, for guiding me
through this project. Donnas insight and knowledge of diversity issues, coupled with
her invaluable suggestions, made this an incredible learning experience for me and
one that has greatly stimulated my interest in racial equality in the workplace.
Finally, I appreciate the advice and statistical prowess of my committee
members, Kurt Kraiger and Annette Towler. Their help and direction played a vital
role in collecting data in a timely manner and accurately interpreting the output.

Tables..................................................... ix
1. INTRODUCTION............................................ 1
The Contemporary Expression of Prejudice:
Subtle Racism.............................................. 5
Individual Factors that Predict
Subtle Racist Beliefs...................................... 8
Locus of Control................................... 11
The Impact of Subtle Racism in the Workplace.............. 13
The Effects of Subtle Racism
on Employee Promotions............................. 17
Accountability............................... 20
Racial Discrimination in Employee
Selection Versus Promotion................................ 22
2. METHODS...................................................... 25
Participants.............................................. 25
Measures.................................................. 26
Locus of Control................................... 26
Subtle Racism...................................... 27
Filler Items....................................... 27
Procedure................................................. 28

Overview....................................... 28
Independent and Dependent Variables............ 29
Manipulation Checks............................ 30
Candidate Qualifications................. 30
Candidate Attractiveness................. 32
Main Study..................................... 33
Employment Decision Condition............ 34
Accountability Condition................. 36
3. RESULTS................................................. 38
4. DISCUSSION.............................................. 43
Limitations, Future Directions, and Implications..... 47
REFERENCES.................................................. 58

1 Means, Standard Deviations,
Coefficients Alpha and Intercorrelations............................ 38
2 Correlations Between Modem Racism Scale Scores
and Dependent Variables By Employment Condition
After Controlling For Educational Status............................ 41

Since the passage of the civil rights legislation during the 1960s, America has
made steady progress to assure equal opportunities for ethnic minorities and, as a
result, overt demonstrations of racial prejudice have declined considerably (Dovidio
& Gaertner, 2000). Prior to these laws being enacted, it was commonplace for
Whites to restrict the freedom of Blacks, demand their respect, and limit residential,
educational, and employment opportunities for Blacks (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1998).
During the past half-century, however, successive generations have witnessed
the progress toward ensuring all people are treated fairly and racial prejudice and
discrimination are eradicated. The attempt to achieve racial equality not only tears
down barriers between Blacks and Whites but also fulfills the standard that all men
are created equal, a concept guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The sense of
satisfaction that accompanies reversing the bigotry of the past, nevertheless, must be
tempered by an understanding that while blatant racist behaviors are far less frequent
than before, negative attitudes toward Blacks are ever-present today among the
majority of White Americans (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1991).
Racism, also referred to as old-fashioned racism, may be defined in terms of
the individual, institution, or culture. Individual racism refers to prejudiced or biased

beliefs about a person with an emphasis placed on his or her biological features and
includes acting toward that person in a discriminatory manner based on those beliefs
(Dovidio & Gaertner, 1986). Institutional racism deals with policies that intentionally
or unintentionally limit opportunities of certain groups of people. Cultural racism
considers the superiority of one races heritage over another.
According to Dovidio and Gaertner (1991), nearly 20% of White Americans
are old-fashioned racists. They advocate the segregation of Blacks and Whites,
including separate but equal facilities for each group, and support policies that limit
the power and potential of Black men and women. One recent study found a link
between racism and aggressive behavior, in which highly prejudiced subjects
delivered more intense shocks to both Black and White competitors during an
experiment than lower prejudiced participants (Beal, ONeal, Ong, & Ruscher, 2000).
This suggests that some Americans not only still hold negative attitudes but also
display negative behaviors toward Blacks. The emotional aspect of negative racial
attitudes usually forms early in life, is most often shaped without any direct contact
with Blacks, and is resistant to change by future experiences (McConahay, 1986).
This lasting negative effect often influences ones cognitions and behaviors later in
life, for instance, when that person is required to interact with Blacks on a regular
Old-fashioned racism has been studied extensively since at least the 1950s.
While researchers have found a significant decline in the number of people who hold

such overtly prejudiced beliefs, it also has become clear that a subtle form of racism
has taken its place as the most common form of racial intolerance (Dovidio &
Gaertner, 1991). Although the majority of Whites denounce overt intolerance toward
Blacks, Dovidio and Gaertner (1991) suggested that a large number of them
demonstrate acceptance of Blacks only on surveys and polls and, instead, secretly
embrace prejudicial attitudes.
This shift from overt to covert racism can be explained by the occurrence of
two significant historical events (McConahay, 1986). First, the deliberate actions of
Adolf Hitler during World War II toward Jews gave the concept of racism a bad
name. His behaviors and reputation helped greatly reduce open expressions of
racism. Second, the civil rights movement of the 1960s successfully dealt with overt
racism through the legislation passed and prompted positive changes in societys
attitudes toward racial equality.
This subtle form of racism is the focus of my study. Several factorscolor
blindness, intergroup contact, White racial identity status, and Protestant ethichave
been shown to predict subtle racist behaviors, and this study will attempt to determine
if locus of control is another. Specifically, I will first explore personal locus of
control based on Heaven and Fumhams (1987) study, which linked economic locus
of control to racial prejudice. This information may assist employers in assembling
racially diverse workgroups as well as help them pre-screen applicants for positions
that require interracial contact.

This study will also ascertain whether a persons subtle racist views are
correlated with the promotion of fewer Black employees. Moreover, I will
investigate whether discrimination against Blacks is more prevalent in promotion
versus selection decisions. Although many studies have examined the influence of
subtle racist attitudes in the workplace, nearly all have involved experiments using
hiring decisions (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000; Brief, Buttram, Elliott, Reizenstein, &
McCline, 1995). However, very little research has investigated the effect of subtle
racist attitudes on promotions of Black employees. Furthermore, because employee
promotion is the stage of employment in which discrimination against racial
minorities is most prevalent (Baldi & McBrier, 1997), this study seeks to contribute
to the existing literature by determining whether subtle racists are more likely to
discriminate against Blacks when making promotion decisions compared to selection
Finally, this study intends to determine if subtle racists who are held
accountable for their promotion decisions discriminate less against Blacks than those
who make such decisions free from scrutiny. Discrimination in promotion occurs
because promotion decisions are made subjectively (Baldi & McBrier, 1997), and
those decisions are often not subject to review by a supervisor or panel. However,
because outcomes are altered when an individuals behaviors are observed by another
person (Powell & Butterfield, 1997), making an individual accountable for promotion
decisions may result in less frequent acts of discrimination toward Black employees.

The results of this study may reveal the degree to which an employees race affects
their opportunity for promotion and may encourage organizations to implement
measures to remove the racial glass ceiling by making promotions a more equitable
The Contemporary Expression of Prejudice: Subtle Racism
The concept of subtle racism is reflected in a number of theoretical models,
including symbolic racism, modem racism, and aversive racism. Although their
characteristics are slightly different, the primary theme remains nearly identical for all
three models: present-day racists are those who unintentionally harbor negative views
toward Blacks, views that are often manifested in the form of discrimination (Swim,
Aikin, Hall, & Hunter, 1995). A brief explanation of each is presented below,
however, for purposes of this paper the term subtle racism will subsequently be used
to refer to Whites covert expression of racial prejudice toward Blacks.
Symbolic racism has been called the behavioral bedrock under a recent
superficial deposit of tolerance (McClelland & Hunter, 1992). Sears (1988) stated
that symbolic racism falls into three categories: (a) antagonism toward Blacks
pushing too hard and moving too fast, especially through their use of violence to
advance their agenda; (b) resentment toward special favors for Blacks; and (c) denial
of continuing discrimination, which is a belief that discrimination in such areas as

jobs or housing is an issue of the past because Blacks now have the freedom to
compete in the marketplace and to enjoy things they can afford.
Modem racism theory espouses the same tenets as symbolic racism.
Specifically, advocates of modem racism suggest that Blacks recent gains are
undeserved, and the support that society has provided Blacks is likewise unwarranted
(McConahay, 1986). Because their views toward Blacks are subtle, and in their
minds justifiable arguments, modem racists do not believe they are racially
prejudiced. They define racism as those behaviors normally associated with old-
fashioned racismnegative beliefs about Blacks intelligence, ambition, honesty, and
similar stereotypes, as well as support for segregation and acts of open discrimination.
Modem racists are therefore ardently opposed to racism, albeit according to their
narrow definition of the word.
Compared to the symbolic and modem racism frameworks, the principles of
aversive racism are defined by the behaviors of subtle racism rather than the reasons
behind the prejudicial beliefs. Aversive racism involves the following ideas: (a) the
bias of aversive racists is expressed in more subtle ways than that of old-fashioned
racists; (b) despite their conscious rejection by aversive racists, unconscious negative
feelings linger; (c) aversive racists express more bias toward higher-status than
toward lower-status minorities; and (d) aversive racists oppose programs designed to
improve the status of Blacks, but seemingly on the basis of factors other than race
(Dovidio & Gaertner, 1998).

Unlike old-fashioned racists, aversive racists sympathize with the victims of
past injustice, support pro-Black public policies in terms of promoting equality, and
regard themselves as nonprejudiced; however, they do possess negative feelings
about Blacks (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1986). For example, individuals with subtle racist
views tend to have positive attitudes about Blacks in terms of abstract concepts such
as equality and fairness, but they also remain less enthusiastic about personally
having Blacks as neighbors and are opposed to interracial marriage (Wolfe &
Spencer, 1996). This dichotomy of beliefs about Blacks is evident through survey
data (Murrell, Dietz-Uhler, Dovidio, Gaertner, & Drout, 1994). In one survey, 76%
of Whites responded, affirmative action programs that help Blacks and other
minorities to get ahead should be supported. However, in another survey 80% of
Whites opposed giving preferential treatment to a Black worker over a White
worker. Katz, Hass, and Wackenhut (1986) stated, Whites have learned to pay lip
service to a norm of equality, but remain fundamentally racist in their feelings.
While old-fashioned racists promote rules and laws that limit the rights and
opportunities for minorities, aversive racists merely favor the status quo (Dovidio &
Gaertner, 1998). However, in some instances aversive racists advocate restrictions on
minorities when they are justifiablelacking proper credentials, for example. In both
cases, their prejudice toward Blacks is vented but in a disguised manner.
Because aversive racists outwardly reject negative stereotypes and claim to
have sympathetic feelings toward victims of injustice, they are convinced that their

racial attitudes are largely positive and certainly not prejudiced (Dovidio & Gaertner,
1986). Moreover, aversive racists behave according to the way they promote
themselvesas advocates of racial equalitybut only when the situation is socially
appropriate to do so. However, their intolerant views toward Blacks surface in
settings in which their prejudice can be rationalized. For example, Frey and Gaertner
(1986) studied subtle racist behaviors among White college students and the degree of
assistance they provided Blacks compared to Whites. The study was designed with
the student playing the role of the director and two confederates serving as a
supervisor and worker. Participants offered less help to a Black worker when the
worker asked for assistance rather than when the supervisor requested help for the
worker. Furthermore, subjects rationalized giving less help if they believed the Black
worker was capable of completing the task without aid, and the difficulty in
completing the task was not due to circumstances beyond his control.
Individual Factors that Predict Subtle Racist Beliefs
As early as the mid 1930s, researchers sought to explain the causes behind
racial prejudice. At that time, experts asserted that prejudice was a form of pathology
that could be the result of scapegoating. A more recent theory argued that an
individual subjected to a severe childhood upbringing could produce a rigid adult who
is prejudiced against any person different from themselves (Wolfe & Spencer, 1996).

Beginning in 1945, the open discrimination against Blacks that was legally
permitted by most states was a trend that was being reversed. Less than 10 years later
those laws were being eliminated, as protections for the rights of Blacks were
gradually being established (McConahay, 1986). By 1954, Allport characterized
prejudice and discrimination not as pathological conditions but as negative attitudes
and negative behaviors toward individuals or groups of people.
Since that time, as overt expressions of racism have decreased and more
covert forms have emerged, researchers have conducted numerous studies to
determine those factors that predict subtle racist beliefs. Consequently, many
variables have been identified as possible antecedents of racial prejudice, but the
findings are often contradicted by other studies. For example, some have found that
personal self-esteem is a predictor of prejudice (Crocker & Schwartz, 1985;
Verkuyten & Masson, 1995), while others have obtained conflicting results and
concluded that self-esteem is uncorrelated with subtle racist beliefs (e.g. De Cremer
& Oosterwegel, 1999);
Several factors, however, have robust support among researchers as being
significant predictors of subtle racist beliefs: color blindness, intergroup contact, and
Protestant ethic. Color blindness refers to treating people according to their
individual merit and character and ignoring race as a trait that distinguishes one
person from another (Jones, 1997). The problem with this is that it is not possible to
ignore visible differences. The current literature supports the link between color

blindness and subtle racism. Schofield (1986) stated that the color-blind perspective
creates an environment that enables subtle racists to act in a discriminatory manner.
Carr (1997) found that color-blind attitudes are related to racial prejudice, with self-
identified color blindness being connected to a greater endorsement of racism.
Similarly, another study confirmed that high levels of color-blind attitudes are
significantly associated with higher levels of racial prejudice (Neville, Lilly, Lee,
Duran, & Browne, 2000).
Intergroup contact is based on Allports contact hypothesis of racial and
ethnic relations (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2000), which states that interracial contact will
reduce prejudice under certain conditions. The hypothesis further holds that
stereotypes about another race are based on ignorance (Wood & Sonleitner, 1996)
and can be overcome through exposure to dissimilar others. Wood and Sonleitner
discovered that past contact had a significant negative association with both anti-
Black prejudice and stereotype adherence and interracial contact was even found to
reduce stereotype adherence and prejudice.
The Protestant ethic is based on the Puritans emphasis on the religious duty
to work hard, constant self-examination, and self-discipline. The early influence of
the Puritans led to a value system known as individualism (Katz, Hass, & Wackenhut,
1986), which stresses personal freedom, self-reliance, devotion to work, and
achievement. The tendency to strongly advocate the individualistic orientation
affects ones opinions and judgments about minority groups (Katz & Hass, 1988).

Those who strongly support the Protestant ethic are more likely to hold anti-Black
views and, according to Allon (1982), perceive Blacks as lazy, sinful, and lacking
discipline and self-denial. Glover (1994) reported that significant predictors of subtle
racist attitudes include higher levels of a Protestant ethic outlook. Another study
concluded that Protestant ethic values were associated with increased prejudice
toward Blacks (Biemat, Vescio, Theno, & Crandall, 1996).
The present study will investigate locus of control as another potential
predictor of subtle racist beliefs. In particular, I will focus on locus of control
because of its close association with economic locus of control, a factor that has been
linked to racial prejudice (Heaven & Fumham, 1987).
Locus of Control
The extent to which people believe they can control events compared to the
influence of environmental forces is a personality variable referred to as locus of
control. This concept, which emerged from Rotters (1954) social learning theory,
has been closely linked to the Protestant ethic (Fumham, 1986). Rotter (1966)
suggested that individuals possess either an internal or external locus of control.
Those with an internal orientation (internals) think that their efforts are mostly
responsible for outcomes, however those holding an external viewpoint (externals)
believe that they have little control in affecting outcomes. Whereas internals see skill

playing the primary role in their circumstances, externals view chance as being the
principal influence.
From the study of religious beliefs to patient health assessments, locus of
control has been used in a wide variety of settings. Heaven and Fumham (1987)
hypothesized that an individuals view toward economic issues was correlated with
negative racial attitudes. Based on Rotters (1966) past work, they used an Economic
Locus of Control (ELOC) scale to measure whether people believe they are in control
of their economic status (internal ELOC) or if they think that chance or powerful
others such as the government or the rich control their economic position (external
ELOC). Their research showed external ELOC to be a predictor of racial prejudice.
Researchers have studied the effect of locus of control on peoples views of
outgroup members. Employing the Adult Locus of Control Scale and the Pharisaic
Virtue scale, Powell and Gable (1973) found a correlation between locus of control
and individual attitudes toward others. As a result, they concluded feelings of
internal control are associated with less self-righteous or hypocritical attitudes toward
others. Moreover, they suggested that externals negative opinions of dissimilar
others may be a defensive response to the contempt they hold toward being controlled
by external influences.
In another study, Duckitt (1984) used items from Rotters (1966) Locus of
Control Scale and a 10-item ethnocentrism scale to examine the relationship between
external locus of control and racial prejudice, respectively, among White South

Africans and reported a small but significant relationship among English-speaking
These two studies identified the influence locus of control has on views of
outgroup members. While the first (Powell & Gable, 1973) showed that internals
have more favorable views of dissimilar others, it did not specifically measure subtle
racist views held by Whites toward Blacks. Meanwhile, the second (Duckitt, 1984)
demonstrated that externals are more racially prejudiced, but that study used a
measure that was shown to be valid and reliable in South Africa. The current
research may be augmented by investigating the relationship between locus of control
among Whites who hold subtle racist views toward Blacks. This study would thus
require using an accurate measure of subtle racism that assesses the issues of racial
intolerance specific to America. Therefore, I predict:
HI: External locus of control will be positively correlated with subtle racist
The Impact of Subtle Racism in the Workplace
Whereas prejudice is an attitude, discrimination is a selectively unjustified
negative behavior toward members of the target group (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1986).
Although Whites attempt to be seen as non-racist by acting in a manner that disguises
their negative opinions about Blacks, their intolerant beliefs ultimately lead to
supporting discriminatory treatment (Swim et al., 1995). Not only are these

discriminatory behaviors extremely difficult to eliminate because they continue to
exist despite changes in society and in organizations, but also because the perpetrators
are often not aware of their beliefs and behaviors (Bielby, 1987).
Racial discrimination in employment was the focus of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. This legislation focused on prohibiting acts of intentional
discrimination and mandated a level playing field for all applicants and employees
with regard to hiring, promotion, demotion, firing, layoffs, compensation, and work
assignment. As a result, employers can be held liable for making employment
decisions that result in adverse impact, the result of a substantially different standard
applied to minorities that works to their disadvantage (Barrett, 1996).
Rarely do employers, however, announce an intent to discriminate against
minorities. And without a smoking gun, intentional discrimination is difficult to
prove, because most people who knowingly want to discriminate will cover their
tracks (Barrett, 1998). Still, while intentional discrimination in which the employer
publicizes his intent is not prevalent, it does occur. Barrett (1998) cited the following
One stockbrokerage firm told the woman at the employment agency not to
send over any Number twos, a code work for African-Americans. They
judged correctly from her accent that she was White, but they could not tell
that her husband was Black. She was happy to testify (p. 89).
The civil rights laws were effective in providing basic protection for
minorities, but it was not until the Supreme Courts decision in Griggs v. Duke Power

Company that employee protection from unintentional discrimination was clarified
(Barrett, 1998). This case dealt with an employer who required that applicants
possess a high school diploma and achieve passing scores on two intelligence tests.
Griggs claimed that these requirements were unfair because they were not related to
the duties of the job. Player (1999) explained that although the lower court had ruled
that the plaintiff was required to prove the defendants discriminatory motive, the
Supreme Court reversed, stating:
The [Civil Rights] Act proscribes not only overt discrimination but also
practices that are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation. Absence of
discriminatory intent does not redeem employment procedures or testing
mechanisms that operate as built-in headwinds for minority groups and are
unrelated to measuring job capability, (p. Ill)
Unintentional discrimination can be equally detrimental to minorities as
intentional discrimination, but it can often be difficult to detect. Laboratory
experiments have allowed researchers to identify subtle behaviors that lead to
discrimination, behaviors committed unknowingly by Whites; this notion is supported
by subtle racists desire to maintain a non-racist self-image. One study revealed that
when interviewing Blacks, White participants display low-immediacy behaviors,
which include using less eye contact with the interviewee, less verbal interaction, and
less friendliness (Bielby, 1987).
Similarly, subtle racist behaviors are committed in the form of attribution
errors, when Whites interpret positive behaviors of Blacks as the result of situational
factors and negative behaviors due to dispositional factors, including those actions

that mirror cultural stereotypes (Bielby, 1987). Wells (1998) explained that subtle
racists way of dealing with Black managers is to initially view them in a favorable
light and treat them as the exception to the rule, meaning that unlike typical Blacks
they are exempt from negative labels or group stereotypes because they hold a
position of status and prestige. However, because they believe this job rightfully
belongs to a White individual, subtle racists will carefully observe the Black
managers behavior and watch for any perceived disappointments, missteps, or errors.
The subject of the unattainable expectations of these Whites, the once-idealized
individual is now judged to be a failure and triggers reactions such as I knew it was
too good to be true, he is just like all the rest. This affirmative action business does
not work (Wells, 1998).
One source of the development of subtle racist beliefs deals with the passage
of anti-discrimination laws. Prejudiced Whites consider this legislation the result of
African Americans pushing for increased economic and political power, and this
viewpoint often leads to unknowingly discriminating against Blacks (Swim et al.,
Although subtle racists are often unaware of their discriminatory behaviors,
Blacks perceive their conduct as inconsistent and insincere (Dovidio, Gaertner, &
Bachman, 2001). Distrust of Whites results, and Blacks become less responsive to
feedback they receive from Whites; specifically, they disregard negative feedback as
being a response to racial prejudice and see positive feedback as overcompensation in

an attempt to come across as non-racist (Major & Crocker, 1993). Because they
desire to appear nonprejudiced, subtle racists avoid offering too much positive or too
much negative feedback toward Blacks, since either extreme would connote being
racially prejudiced.
While racial discrimination exists across organizations and includes both
white-collar and blue-collar jobs, the disparity in treatment of Blacks compared to
Whites increases dramatically in upper-level positions. According to the 2000
Census, Blacks constitute 12.3% of the general U.S. population (United States Census
Bureau, n.d.). However, while Blacks overall represent 13% of the Navy, they
comprise only 5% of the officers and less than 2% of the admirals (Dovidio &
Gaertner, 1998). Dovidio and Gaertner (1998) reported that this same trend is evident
in the private sector, as less than 1% of the executives in Fortune 1000 industrial and
Fortune 500 service companies are Black. Such differences in treatment and
opportunities between Blacks and Whites are evident throughout all stages of
employment, but especially promotion.
The Effects of Subtle Racism on Employee Promotions
Promotions are beneficial to companies because they are useful in filling
vacant positions from within the organization, and they also reward employees by
providing them with direct economic and psychological reinforcement (Sheridan,

Slocum, & Buda, 1997). In addition to the increase in pay, promotions usually afford
employees with greater autonomy (Baldi & McBrier, 1997).
While much research has been directed toward the advancement of women in
organizations, less attention has been paid to the upward movement of racial
minorities into managerial positions (Powell & Butterfield, 1997). Although
employee promotions should be based primarily on an individuals job performance,
Markham, Harlan, and Hackett (1987) found that factors other than work-related
accomplishments, the employees educational achievements, on-the-job training, and
demographic characteristics also influence upward mobility. Blacks may experience
slower promotion rates than Whites, which results in glass ceilings that are set as an
obstruction to advancement (Sheridan et al., 1997). These glass ceilings are
established so that the proportion of ethnic minorities declines with higher
occupational status.
A majority of the existing literature supports the idea that an employees race
is a key factor in promotions and the quality of treatment that person receives, with
Whites receiving more favorable treatment than Blacks (James, 2000). Further,
because White men make most of the decisions about promotion into upper
management, Blacks may face difficulties overcoming negative stereotypes regarding
their executive potential (Tomkiewicz, Brenner, & Adeyemi-Bello, 1998). Those
Black employees who are promoted into the upper managerial ranks are not well
received by middle-level White managers who possess subtle racist beliefs. They

covertly believe that career advancement of Blacks toward the strategic apex of an
organization represents a scandalous paradox (Wells, 1998). This paradox
transpires when a Black individual is given a position historically granted exclusively
to Whites.
A study conducted by Baldi and McBrier (1997) explored differences between
Blacks and Whites and their promotion rates. In their sample, they identified
individual-level factors such as education level, work experience within the firm, and
pre-firm work experience. They also looked at company-level variables that included
whether the workers company had an internal labor market, a union, a personnel
department, and on-the-job training. Their findings revealed that the differences in
these variables influenced promotion rates of employees. However, these variables
could not account for the disparity in promotion rates between Blacks and Whites.
Accordingly, they concluded, Black workers are significantly less likely to be
promoted than are White workers with similar levels of education and work
experience in firms with similar characteristics and organizational environments.
Although some research has indicated that an employees race had no effect
on rates of promotion (Sheridan et al., 1997) or selection (Brief, Dietz, Cohen, Pugh,
& Vaslow, 2000), other studies have shown that race plays a significant part in such
decisions. Dovidio and Gaertner (2000) reported that participants who scored higher
on a measure of subtle racism recommended hiring Black applicants significantly less
than those who scored lower on the measure. James (2000) found that Black

managers were promoted at a slower rate and received less psychosocial support than
their White counterparts.
The research suggests that career advancement among Black employees is
slower than the upward mobility of Whites in the workplace. This trend is
compounded due to the fact that subtle racists are overall less likely to make
employment decisions in favor of Blacks. Therefore, I predict that individuals with
subtle racist attitudes will promote fewer Black employees. I also predict that high
subtle racists are more likely than low subtle racists to discriminate against Black
employees when rating their qualifications for promotion. Specifically, subtle racist
attitudes will be associated with assigning lower overall ratings to Black employees
being considered for promotion.
H2: Subtle racist attitudes will be negatively correlated with Black employee
promotion rates.
H3: Subtle racist attitudes will be negatively correlated with the ratings of the
qualifications of Black candidates for promotion.
Accountability. In most organizations, individuals who make promotion
decisions are often monitored very little. While the hiring process is closely watched
to prevent acts of either intentional or unintentional racial discrimination, promotion
decisions are less open to scrutiny because the criteria are usually more subjective
(Baldi & McBrier, 1997).

Outcomes are altered when an individuals behaviors are observed by another
person (Powell & Butterfield, 1997). In particular, when promotions determined by a
group of people are subject to scrutiny, behavior may be different from decisions
made by a single individual who is not held accountable. Accordingly, Powell and
Butterfield (1997) concluded that individuals may be less likely to discriminate on the
basis of race when their decisions are examined, such as reviewed by a group of
Subtle racists discriminate only when their behavior is not easily recognizable,
and consequently will not discriminate in situations in which they recognize that
discrimination would be obvious to others and themselves (Dovidio & Gaertner,
2000). Therefore, it follows that subtle racists will be more likely to discriminate
when making promotion decisions that are free from third-party examination or
I predict that holding individuals accountable when making employment
decisions will lead to significantly less discrimination toward Black employees. In
particular, subtle racists will be less likely to make promotion decisions that
discriminate against Blacks if they believe their decisions will be reviewed by a panel
or another person. Moreover, this effect is consistent with the research that suggests
subtle racists tend to not discriminate when others may interpret their behaviors as
racially biased. Subtle racist attitudes and the accountability condition will interact to

influence the participants promotion decisions, resulting in less discrimination
toward Black employees.
H4: Subtle racism will have a stronger negative relationship with promotion
when participants are held accountable for their promotion decisions.
Racial Discrimination in Employee Selection Versus Promotion
The laws passed to prevent the occurrence of racial discrimination in
employment have largely been successful in addressing overt behaviors, as employers
can be held liable for making employment decisions that result in advantages for
Whites or disadvantages for Blacks. However, given the emergence of covertly
expressed prejudice, employment discrimination still occurs and is more difficult to
detect than the more obvious types of bias against Blacks.
The effect of such subtle racist beliefs on selection decisions has been the
focus of numerous studies (Brief et al., 1995; Brief et al., 2000; Dovidio & Gaertner,
2000). One study concluded that subtle racists were less likely to hire Black
applicants when provided with a business justification to discriminate (Brief et al.,
2000). This refers to a verbal or written form of guidance provided by a superior that
instructs subordinates to discriminate against a particular group, an act justified by a
business rationale. Subtle racists are also likely to discriminate in hiring situations
when the Black candidates qualifications are ambiguous (Dovidio & Gaertner,
2000). Since appropriate behavior is not obviouswhether or not to hire the Black

candidatethe decision to discriminate does not appear as racially motivated, and
subtle racists could justify their behavior according to unclear qualifications.
However, when there is no business justification or the source of that justification is
deemed an illegitimate source of authority, or when the Black applicants
qualifications are either clearly strong or clearly weak, the subtle racist is not likely to
Fewer studies, however, have been conducted to test for the effect of subtle
racist beliefs on promotion decisions. Baldi and McBrier (1997) stated that
promotion is the stage of employment at which racial discrimination is most likely to
persist. Moreover, whereas hiring decisions are based on past performance and
measures that must be job-relevant, fair, and legally defensible, promotions entail
subjective evaluations of employees. Therefore, in making promotion decisions
employers are prone to discriminate in more subtle ways that are often difficult to
detect, a fact that reduces the risk of litigation (Baldi & McBrier, 1997).
Subtle racists are more likely to demonstrate racial bias when their actions are
not easily recognizable and are less likely to discriminate when decisions have an
obvious right or wrong choice (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000). Therefore, since
discrimination most frequently occurs during the promotion stage of employment,
and because promotions are largely based on subjective criteria, I predict that:
H5: Subtle racist attitudes will be more negatively correlated with Black
promotion rates than Black selection rates.

In the next chapter, I describe the methods used to examine my five
hypotheses. These hypotheses were tested using a deceptive scenario in which
participants were told that their opinions would influence the three of seven
candidates for a job. In addition, they were told that the current research study
involved looking at the effects of an economic recession on their opinions toward
social issues. Participants completed a survey that assessed attitudes toward a wide
array of topics such as homosexuality, politics, and race.

Participants consisted of249 students enrolled in psychology and business
courses during the 2002 spring semester at a university in the Rocky Mountain
region. This sample included 61 graduate students (32 males, 28 females, 1 no
response) and 188 undergraduate students (76 males, 105 females, 7 no response).
All participants took part in the study on a voluntary basis and were awarded extra
credit points by their instructors for their involvement. Because the study focuses
specifically on the responses of Whites, all individuals belonging to a racial category
other than White received the same amount of extra credit for participating, but their
responses were removed from data analysis. In order to isolate the White
participants, students were told to select a survey based on their self-identified racial
category, White or Non-White. The surveys completed by minority individuals
contained the items pertaining to locus of control and the filler items but omitted
those items measuring subtle racism.

Locus of Control
Participants responded to items from a revised version of Rotters (1966)
Locus of Control Scale. This scale uses 10 of the original scales 23 items and
measures two factors, personal and political control. Ferguson (1993) found the 10-
item scale valid compared to Rotters 23-item scale. Specifically, he correlated
participants feelings of being worn out and uptight with their responses on the
locus of control scales. Ferguson reported that his personal control items and Rotters
scale had significant positive correlations with two self-report measures of health.
For purposes of this study, however, only the five items that measure personal
control were used (see Appendix A). These five items shown in Appendix A were
answered on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly
Agree, with low scores indicating an internal locus of control and high scores
reflecting an external locus of control. Fergusons (1993) abbreviated scale was
selected because it measures only two factors, personal and political control. This
permits isolating items, those in the personal control subscale, that assess the extent
that participants feel they can control or influence issues and events pertaining to their
lives. In contrast, research using Rotters (1966) scale has produced between one and
nine factors (Coombs & Schroeder, 1988; Mclnish & Lee, 1987).

Subtle Racism
Items from the Modem Racism Scale (MRS) (McConahay, 1986) were
employed to assess participants levels of covert prejudice. The MRS was selected
because of its common use in other recent research studies (Brief et al., 2000; Beal et
al., 2000). In addition, the scale serves as an effective measure of subtle racism
because of its nonreactivity; that is, items are phrased such that participants are
unlikely to recognize them as measuring racial prejudice (McConahay, 1986).
The MRS consists of 7 items, and participant responses fall on a 5-point
Likert scale and range from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree, with high
scores indicating a higher level of modem racism. One of the items was not included
in this study. That itemBlacks have more influence upon school desegregation
plans than they ought to havealso loaded high on a factor of old-fashioned racism
(McConahay, 1986). Therefore, the six-item scale (see Appendix B), which
collectively has an alpha coefficient of 0.77 (McConahay, 1986), was used to assess
subtle racist attitudes.
Filler Items
In addition to the 11 survey items measuring locus of control and subtle
racism, participants responded to 15 additional items (see Appendix C) dealing with
such social issues as welfare, poverty, homosexuality, abortion, and political
affiliation. Developed by the principal researcher, these items were added solely to

prevent participants from identifying the items that addressed locus of control and
racial prejudice. Responses to these items will not be analyzed. The items were
collectively presented to participants as a Social Attitudes Survey.
This study can be divided into two areas of emphasis: (a) to determine if
locus of control was an accurate predictor of subtle racist attitudes; and (b) the effect
of subtle racist attitudes on employment decisions. Each area is presented in more
detail below.
While research has shown several variablesfor example, color blindness,
intergroup contact, White racial identity status, Protestant ethicas significant
predictors of subtle racism, this study sought to examine locus of control as another
potential predictor. It is hypothesized that external locus of control would be
positively correlated with subtle racist attitudes.
The Modem Racism Scale was employed to measure subtle racism. In order
to assess the effect of subtle racist attitudes on employment decisions, participants
scores on this scale were compared to the number of Blacks they hired or promoted
for a position. The lack of legal scrutiny and subjective nature of promotion
decisions served as the basis of three hypotheses: (a) subtle racist attitudes will be
negatively correlated with Black employee promotion rates; (b) subtle racist attitudes

will be negatively correlated with the ratings of the qualifications of Black candidates
for promotion; and (c) high subtle racist attitudes will result in greater discrimination
against Blacks in promotion decisions than selection decisions.
Finally, since most promotions are made by one person and usually are not
subject to review, the concept of accountability was tested. This author contends that
when they are not held accountable for their decisions, Whites with high subtle racist
attitudes are less likely to promote Blacks than Whites with low subtle racist attitudes.
Thus, the interaction between subtle racism and the accountability condition will lead
to lower discrimination against Black employees.
Independent and Dependent Variables
The study included two independent variables, type of employment decision
and the accountability condition. Participants were randomly assigned to the
selection or promotion group and were instructed to read a job description and review
seven individual resumes. Participants were then responsible for either selecting or
promoting the three most qualified candidates.
The accountability condition was an independent variable applied only to
members in the promotion group. Promotion group participants were randomly
assigned to the accountability condition by being told that their promotion decisions
would be subject to review by the alumni association. The no accountability
condition consisted of participants who were informed that they were solely

responsible for their promotion decisions and that their recommendations would not
be reviewed.
Two dependent variables were studied. The first was the number of Black
candidates who were chosen by participants to fill three positions on a committee.
The pool of eligible candidates consisted of seven individuals, five of whom were
White and two were Black. Therefore, this variable ranged from 0 to 2.
The second dependent variable was the ratings of the Black employees
qualifications for the committee position. Participants rated each Black candidate
according to how well that individual was qualified for the position. These ratings
were assigned on a 10-point scale that ranged from 1 (does not meet qualifications) to
10 (superior qualifications). This variable consisted of the mean of the two Blacks
Manipulation Checks
Candidate Qualifications. A pilot study was conducted in order to validate
and differentiate between the strongly and weakly qualified candidate resumes. Four
of the resumes intentionally contained strong qualifications, and the other three
included weak credentials. Before using these resumes in the main study, the pilot
group was used to confirm the strength of the qualifications. In order to isolate the
qualifications as the single variable being evaluated, no information was included in
the resumes that would identify the candidates race.

A group of 11 White graduate psychology students from the University of
Colorado at Denver voluntarily participated in the study. The principal researcher
explained to these individuals that the University of Colorado Alumni Association
was attempting to choose the three most qualified individuals from a pool of seven
candidates to fill a 3-member student advocacy committee. This committee would
work to resolve student-related issues on a full-time basis, and they would be paid a
competitive salary for their employment. Because the committee would represent
student interests, the association believed the students should have the opportunity to
determine the best qualified individuals.
The participants tasks included reading the requirements for the committee
position and reviewing each of the resumes. They were then instructed to answer the
following items for each of the seven resumes: (a) indicate which of the seven
candidates are qualified for the position by circling qualified or not qualified; and
(b) rate the candidates qualifications on a 10-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (does
not meet qualifications) to 10 (superior qualifications). The total time required to
complete this process was approximately 20 minutes.
The results revealed that the participants labeled the four candidates with
strong qualifications as qualified 84 percent of the time, while the three candidates
with weak qualifications were identified as qualified only 12 percent of the time. The
difference was significant, t(10) = -7.06, p = .00.

The strength of the candidates qualifications was also rated. The mean rating
for the qualified candidates was 6.82, and the mean value for the unqualified
candidates was 3.61. The difference was significant, t(10) = -5.35, p = .00. The
mean values for each of the four qualified candidates were as follows: 7.91, 7.0,
6.82, and 5.55. The mean ratings for the unqualified candidates were 3.91, 3.73, and
Candidate Attractiveness. After rating the qualifications, the pilot study
members were asked to rate the attractiveness of the individual photos to be used in
the main study. In order to prevent gender from being a confounding variable, all
seven candidates were males. Because the decision of determining the three most
qualified candidates from a group of seven may be influenced by the attractiveness of
the candidates picture, participants were provided with the seven pictures and were
directed to answer the following questions: (a) rate the attractiveness of each photo
on a scale ranging from 1 (very unattractive) to 10 (very attractive); (b) indicate the
most attractive individual; and (c) choose the least attractive individual.
The mean ratings for the Black photos were 7.45 (SD=0.93) and 5.64
(SD=1.36), while the average ratings of the two most attractive Whites were 5.82
(SD=0.98) and 5.09 (SD=1.14). Since candidate attractiveness could result in
unqualified candidates unintentionally being chosen, the two most attractive Whites
were randomly assigned to two of the qualified resumes, and the two Blacks were

matched with the other two qualified resumes. The remaining photos were each put
with the three unqualified resumes. Therefore, the most attractive candidates
possessed the strongest qualifications, and the least attractive were the least qualified
for the job.
Main Study
The main study assessed the influence of subtle racist attitudes when making
employment decisions. The study required approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Participants of the study were told that the University of Colorado Alumni
Association was in the process of forming a student advocacy committee that would
work on such projects as eliminating student parking fees for CU-Denver students.
The 3-person committee would consist of full-time paid positions that would be
employed by the CU Alumni Association and work directly with the universitys
Board of Regents on student issues. This deception was used in order to encourage
participants to provide honest feedback toward a topic that they believed directly
affected them.
In order to incorporate the use of a social attitudes survey, I told the
participants that I had volunteered to collect the student advocacy committee input for
the alumni association in exchange for the opportunity to assess students views
toward a number of social issues during a period of national economic recession. In
order to counterbalance the surveys potential effects on the employment decisions,

half of the participants completed the survey prior to making their selections or
promotions, and the other half completed it subsequent to their selection or promotion
Participants each received a packet of resumes, and each resume included a
picture. They were informed that these seven peopletwo Blacks and five Whites
had been chosen from a larger pool as the final candidates for the committee
positions. The participants were instructed to read the job requirements and review
each individuals qualifications for the position. They were then asked to rate each
candidate according to his qualifications for the position on a 10-point Likert scale
and then indicate the three individuals who best satisfy the job requirements.
Moreover, they were instructed to list which of the three they considered to be their
top choice and provide a reason why that individual was the best qualified.
Employment Decision Condition. Since the study involves two types of
employment decisions, the issue of effectively differentiating between the selection
and promotion conditions needs to be addressed. After reviewing the literature, I
found that the two types of studies differed primarily in the use of a scenario in which
the participants were told to either hire the candidate or promote the candidate.
Instead of providing a manipulation or factor to make the promotion condition
different than a selection condition, the researchers simply instructed the participants
to promote the best qualified person after watching a videotaped interview (Jackson,

1999; Barr & Hitt, 1986), observing actors in an interview setting (Gaillard, 1998), or
responding to a paper-people methodology (Moore, 1998).
A study that compares responses from participants making selection decisions
to those involving promotion decisions should distinguish more clearly between the
two types of employment decisions, considering selection decisions are typically
more closely examined for their legal defensibility than promotions. Moreover,
selecting candidates must strictly comply with federal and state regulations pertaining
to discrimination in hiring, whereas promotions are often subjectively determined by
one individual. In the opinion of the author, one way to make this distinction is
through the use of an equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy statement for
participants faced with a selection decision and no such statement with the group
making promotion decisions. This statement conforms to the Civil Rights Act of
1964 by indicating, for example, that an employer does not discriminate against
applicants on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The EEO
statement would make participants in the selection group aware of the need to be fair
in making hiring decisions.
Therefore, half of the participants in this study were informed after reviewing
the job description and resumes that they would be making a hiring decision of the
three best qualified candidates for the position. Their materials included the
following statement: The University of Colorado Alumni Association is an equal
opportunity employer and does not discriminate against applicants on the basis of

their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Because employers are very aware
of the laws prohibiting discrimination in hiring, a second statement was included in
the selection groups materials. This statement was intended to make this issue
salient to the participants, many of whom may not be familiar with the ramifications
of failing to abide by anti-discrimination laws: The Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission performs a quarterly audit of the employment records in order to ensure
full compliance with this anti-discrimination policy.
The remaining half of participants in the study were told that they would be
recommending three of the individuals for promotion from their current positions
within the CU Alumni Association. Because promotions do not face the same degree
of scrutiny as selection decisions, the materials for participants in the promotion
group did not include either of the aforementioned EEO statements.
Accountability Condition. Participants in the promotion group were examined
to determine whether being held accountable for promotion decisions would lead to
less discrimination toward Black employees. It has already been established that
promotions are frequently based on subjective judgments and are often made by a
single person. However, in some instances when a panel reviews these decisions, the
outcome may be different than if there had been no review.
In order to assess the effect of accountability to others for promotion
decisions, half of the promotion group was randomly placed in the accountability

condition, and the other half was put in the no accountability condition. Those in the
accountability condition were instructed to act as if they were employed by the CU
Alumni Association and would be held accountable for their promotion
recommendations. In other words, they were told to make promotion
recommendations knowing that they would have to justify their choices to a panel of
CU Alumni Association employees. Participants in the no accountability condition
were likewise told to make their decisions as if they were CU Alumni Association
employees. However, they were informed that they would be solely responsible for
their decisions and that they would not have to justify their choices or explain why
they recommended certain candidates for promotion.

Means, standard deviations, coefficients alpha, and intercorrelations for the
predictor and outcome variables are listed in Table 1.
Table 1
Means. Standard Deviations. Coefficients Alpha and Intercorrelations
Variable Mean S.D. 1 2 3 4 5
Predictors 1. Personal Locus of Control 2.66 .60 (.58)
2. Subtle Racism (Modem Racism Scale) 2.22 .57 .18** (.75)
3. Employment Condition 1.69 .46 .06 .07
4. Number of Blacks Chosen 1.57 .52 -.11 -.16* .03
5. Ratings of Black Candidates Qualifications 7.96 1.14 -.13* -.11 -.07 .38**
* p<.05; ** p< .01
Note: Predictor variables were measured on a 5-point scale except employment
condition (l=selection, 2=promotion). Number of Blacks chosen ranged from 0-2,
and Black candidates qualifications were rated on a 10-point scale. N sizes ranged
from 236-249. Coefficient alphas are reported on the main diagonal.

Preliminary analyses were conducted to assess differences between graduate
and undergraduate respondents. Results revealed significant differences in the
responses on the locus of control and subtle racism items. Therefore, to control for
the effects of educational status (undergraduate versus graduate student), a partial
correlation was conducted to test hypothesis one. This hypothesis stated that external
locus of control will be positively correlated with subtle racist attitudes. The results
revealed a significant positive relationship between personal locus of control and
subtle racist attitudes, r(246) = .16, p< .05, after controlling for educational status.
This finding confirmed the first hypothesis, since an external personal locus of
control was found to be positively correlated with high subtle racist attitudes.
Partial correlations were also used to test the second and third hypotheses,
controlling for the effects of the participants educational status. The second
hypothesis stated that subtle racist attitudes will be negatively correlated with Black
employee promotion rates. The first analysis showed a significant negative
relationship between Modem Racism Scale scores and the number of Black
candidates chosen for promotion, r(161) = -.20, p < .01.
The third hypothesis stated that subtle racist attitudes will be negatively
correlated with the ratings of the qualifications of Black candidates for promotion.
The second analysis indicated a significant negative relationship between Modem
Racism Scale scores and ratings of Black candidates qualifications, r(169) = -.18,
E < .05. The results are presented in Table 2. These analyses supported hypothesis

two and three as subtle racist attitudes were negatively correlated with both Black
employee promotion rates and ratings of Black candidates qualifications for
A hierarchical regression analysis was performed to test the fourth hypothesis,
which proposed that subtle racism will have a stronger negative relationship with
promotion when participants are held accountable for their promotion decisions. In
step one, the demographic variablesparticipant gender, age, and educational
statuswere entered as predictors, and the mean number of Black candidates chosen
for promotion served as the dependent variable. The second and third steps included
the mean Modem Racism Scale scores and accountability condition (coded as 0 = no
accountability and 1 = accountability), respectively. The interaction term (the
product of the modem racism and accountability variables) was entered in the fourth
step. Hypothesis four was not supported, since subtle racism did not have a stronger
negative relationship with promotion when participants were held accountable for
their promotion decisions.

Table 2
Correlations Between Modem Racism Scale Scores and Dependent Variables
Bv EmDlovment Condition After Controlling For Educational Status

Variable Correlation with Modem Racism
Number of Blacks Selected .004
Number of Blacks Promoted -.20**
Ratings of Black Selection Candidates Qualifications .10
Ratings of Black Promotion Candidates Qualifications -.18*
*2 <.05; **p<.01
The fifth hypothesis involved a comparison of two partial correlations,
controlling for the effects of participant educational status. The first partial
correlation tested the relationship between the mean modem racism scores and the
mean number of Black candidates selected, while the second determined the
relationship between mean modem racism scores and the mean number of Black
employees promoted. The results are presented in Table 2, which show a significant
negative partial correlation between the mean Modem Racism Scale scores and the
Black promotion rate but no significant relationship between the mean Modem
Racism Scale scores and the Black selection rate.

However, because the fifth hypothesis proposed that subtle racist attitudes
were more negatively associated with Black promotion rates than Black selection
rates, a statistical comparison of the partial correlations was required. A hierarchical
regression was conducted to test whether the partial correlations were significantly
different across conditions. Residual variables were first created to control for the
effects of participant educational status on Modem Racism Scale scores and the
number of Blacks selected or promoted.
With the mean number of Blacks selected or promoted as the dependent
variable, the regression analysis involved entering participant gender and age at step
one and the employment condition (selection or promotion) and the residual modem
racism variable at step two. The third step consisted of the interaction of the step two
variables. The results did not reveal a significant difference in the partial
correlations. Therefore, since subtle racist attitudes were not more negatively
correlated with Black promotion rates than Black selection rates, hypothesis five was
not supported.

This study was divided into two areas of emphasis. The first examined
personal locus of control as a potential predictor of subtle racist attitudes, while the
second investigated whether subtle racist views influenced promotions of Black
employees. The first hypothesis predicted a positive relationship between external
locus of control and subtle racism. The results supported this prediction, which
suggests that the more individuals believe that outside influences control their lives,
the more they are likely to harbor negative views toward Blacks. One explanation for
this connection may be that when externals become dissatisfied with their
circumstances (e.g. job, life, financial situation, etc.), they see Blacks as one of the
outside sources responsible for their discontent. This linkage between an external
locus of control and prejudice toward Blacks confirms earlier work by Duckitt (1984)
involving similarly intolerant views by White South Africans toward Blacks. That
study assessed racial prejudice using a measure of ethnocentrism.
The basis of the second and third hypotheses involved the relationship
between subtle racist attitudes and promotion decisions. In order to determine the
effects of subtle racism, two dependent variables were used. The first was the
number of Blacks chosen for promotion, and the second dealt with the ratings of the

Black candidates qualifications for promotion. This study sought to determine if
individuals with subtle racist beliefs were less likely to promote Black employees or
give lower ratings to Blacks who were being considered for promotion. The results
supported both hypotheses, as subtle racism was strongly associated with the
promotion of fewer Blacks and rating Black employees less qualified for a job.
Although research has suggested that subtle racists avoid situations in which
they might appear to be prejudiced (Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986), one explanation for
these findings may be due to the deception employed in the study. Participants were
told that their input would be used to promote the three most qualified employees to
form an advocacy committee that would work to resolve such issues as eliminating
student parking fees on campus. Because students considered this a particularly
important and relevant issue, it is more likely that they provided their most honest
responses when answering survey questions and making promotion decisions.
The candidates resumes were assembled so that three of the White candidates
intentionally had clearly weak qualifications and the two remaining Whites and two
Blacks had equally strong qualifications. A pilot study confirmed a significant
difference between the strong and weak resumes, meaning that the most qualified
candidates should have been evident to participants. However, participants may have
assumed that all seven candidates for promotion were qualified for the job and
viewed any distinctions between their qualifications as insignificant. Therefore, some
degree of ambiguity resulted from having to choose three candidates from a pool of

seven qualified individuals. In other words, many participants may have not believed
that there were obviously correct or clearly incorrect choices to be made.
Dovidio and Gaertner (2000) suggested that when confronted with an
ambiguous situation, subtle racists will be more likely to discriminate against Blacks
and yet still maintain their non-prejudiced self-image because their behaviors cannot
easily be labeled as racist. Therefore, those who scored high on the measure of subtle
racism did not consider promoting fewer Blacks or rating them lower than the White
candidates as acts of racial prejudice.
The fourth hypothesis stated that subtle racism would have a stronger negative
relationship with promotion when participants were held accountable for their
promotion decisions. Specifically, it was predicted that high subtle racists would
discriminate less against Black candidates for promotion when they were held
accountable for their decisions. The results indicated that promotion
recommendations were not affected by the accountability condition. This outcome
may have been influenced by two factors. First, participants who were placed in the
accountability condition were instructed to make promotion recommendations as if
they would have to justify their decisions to a panel of individuals. Those in the no
accountability condition were told to make their recommendations as if they were
solely responsible for who was promoted and that they would not have to explain
their rationale for their promotion decisions. This study may have failed to effectively

differentiate between the conditions and capture the effect on decision-making caused
by the observation of another person.
The second issue that may have negated the potential effects of the
accountability condition was the number of decision-makers involved in the study.
When one individual is charged with making a decision affecting several peoples
careers, that person feels the pressures that accompany determining who is promoted
and who is not. Furthermore, the decision-maker is well aware that they alone are
responsible for the result. These issues, along with the concept that outcomes are
altered when an individuals behaviors are scrutinized by another person (Powell &
Butterfield, 1997), make the notion of accountability particularly compelling for the
sole decision-maker. However, because each participant was a member of a large
group of individuals who made promotion recommendations, these issues and any
notion of accountability for their decisions did not likely play a meaningful role.
The fifth hypothesis predicted a greater negative relationship between subtle
racist attitudes and Black promotion rates than between subtle racism and Black
selection rates. Separate partial correlations that controlled for participant
educational status showed a significant negative relationship between subtle racist
attitudes and Black promotion rates. Similar to the results in another study (Brief et
al., 2000), there was no significant association between subtle racism and Black
selection rates. However, despite these findings the results did not support this

hypothesis, as the difference between the two partial correlations was not statistically
Limitations. Future Directions, and Implications
Several factors may have influenced the results of the study. Time constraints
prevented a second pilot study from being conducted, which would have determined
the salience of the selection and promotion conditions. Although subtle racism was
shown to be negatively correlated with Black promotion rates, such a study may have
offered additional support for this finding by showing that the two employment
conditions were significantly different from each other. Additionally, although using
paper people when conducting research is common, this format may have made
differentiating between tasks involving selection and promotion difficult for
participants. The use of videotaped actors may alleviate this problem in a future
study since participants could make promotion decisions, for example, based on
observing candidates dressed in a fictitional companys uniform, making the concept
of promotion more plausible.
The pilot study was conducted to eliminate the effects of candidate
attractiveness by matching the most attractive photos with the most qualified resumes.
However, despite the significant difference between the four attractive photos and the
three unattractive photos, too much variability existed among the attractive photos.
The most attractive photo was scored significantly higher on the rating scale than the

other three photos in the group. Any future studies using photographs should
eliminate this confound by using photos of individuals that are not significantly
different in terms of attractiveness.
While past research has examined the effects of making people responsible to
others for their decisions, implementing accountability as an experimental condition
within this study was difficult to accomplish. Within an organizational context, some
employees make employment decisions autonomously while others are held
accountable for their choices. Whereas the issue of accountability may greatly affect
the outcomes in organizations, it was probably not as meaningful or influential among
a sample that consisted of undergraduate and graduate students.
Only having a single period of data collection is another possible limitation of
this study. Since participants completed the survey and made promotion
recommendations concurrently, the issue of race may have been salient.
Administering the survey and promotion decision task at separate times may be
preferable to the method used in this study.
Although the Modem Racism Scale is a widely used measure of subtle racism,
and the personal locus of control items are reported in the literature as a reliable and
valid instrument, the coefficients alpha found in the current study were lower than
desired. The low reliability coefficients for the personal locus of control items (.58)
and the Modem Racism Scale (.75) are another potential limitation of the study.

In order to limit racial minority exposure to Modem Racism Scale items, two
versions of the survey were available to participants. However, because participants
were instructed to choose a White or non-White version, according to their self-
identified racial category, some confusion in making that determination may have
occurred. The principal researcher witnessed two Asian students completing the
White version, which resulted in a sample that was not restricted to the responses of
Caucasians. It is therefore recommended that future studies use one survey version
and include multiple racial group categories on a cover sheet so that participants can
identify their ethnicity in more specific terms.
Because the sample consisted of students attending an urban university with a
large non-White population, some participants may have been more sensitive when
answering survey items dealing with race. In fact, approximately 35% of the
participants belonged to a non-White racial group. It is suggested that the
demographic make-up of this studys participants influenced responses toward
questions involving race. When dealing with measures of subtle racism, future
endeavors should involve data collection from a variety of settings in order to
compare participant responses from a racially diverse sample with a more racially
homogeneous group.
Future directions for research include investigating the effects of subtle racism
on promotion decisions in situations when the only qualified candidates are Black.
This is contrary to the notion that subtle racists will discriminate only when

confronted with ambiguous circumstancesfor example, when all candidates are
equally qualified. However, because promotions do not face the same legal scrutiny
as selection decisions, subtle racists are more likely to discriminate under a variety of
The association between locus of control and subtle racism needs to be
explored further. Determining which aspects of locus of controlfor example,
political or personalare linked to subtle racist beliefs may be worth researching.
This study contributes to the literature by empirically supporting the link
between personal locus of control and subtle racist views. Knowing if an individual
considers success on the job the result of external influences, for example, suggests
an external locus of control. This study has shown that such an orientation is
indicative of intolerant views of Blacks. This information may assist employers in
assembling racially diverse workgroups as well as help them in pre-screening
applicants for positions that require interracial contact.
The results of this study also have implications for private-sector companies
and public-sector institutions by bringing to light discrimination against Blacks that
can occur in the promotion process resulting from decisions made by those who hold
subtle racist views. While laws prohibit racial discrimination and most firms are
committed to a non-discriminatory hiring process, employee promotions are often
decisions in which racial prejudice toward Blacks can occur. Knowing that subtle
racism is strongly associated with lower promotion rates among Black employees,

firms can reduce or eliminate unfair treatment of Blacks workers by monitoring the
process and those who make decisions regarding employee advancement.


Items from Fergusons (1993) 10-Item Two-Factor Model
of Rotters Locus of Control Scale
Personal Control Items
1. Sometimes I feel that I dont have enough control over the direction my life
has taken.
2. Many times I feel as though I have little influence over what happens to me.
3. Most people dont realize the extent to which their lives are controlled by
accidental happenings.
4. Getting a good job depends on being in the right place at the right time.
5. It is not always wise to plan too far ahead because many things turn out to be
a matter of good and bad fortune anyhow.


Items from McConahavs ('1986s) Modem Racism Scale
1. Over the past few years, the government and news media have shown more
respect to Blacks than they deserve.
2. It is easy to understand the anger of Black people in America.*
3. Discrimination against Blacks is no longer a problem in the United States.
4. Over the past few years, Blacks have gotten more economically than they
5. Blacks are getting too demanding in their push for equal rights.
6. Blacks should not push themselves where they are not wanted.
* Items that required reverse scoring.


Filler Items for the Social Attitudes Survey
1. Republicans are less likely than Democrats to show compassion toward the
average citizen.
2. Most people are poor because they dont want to work.
3. The world is run by a few people in power, and there is not much the average
person can do about it.
4. AIDS is a disease primarily contracted by homosexuals and drug addicts.
5. Earning a college degree is the only way to succeed in life.
6. People on welfare often want to provide for themselves but cant afford to get
a job because it pays less than the assistance they receive.
7. I have one or more homosexual friends.
8. Politicians can do very little to prevent poverty.
9. Abortion involves a womans right to choose.
10.1 believe the federal government is too large, has too many social programs,
and should be downsized.
11. People choose whether they lead a heterosexual or homosexual lifestyle.
12. Democrats are in favor of big government, and Republicans are in favor of tax
breaks for the wealthy.
13.1 prefer adoption to abortion, because abortion is morally wrong.
14. The most successful people in the world were only average students in school.
15. How a person behaves outside of work is nobodys business.

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