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Trends in Racial Attitudes

This page is under construction. Check back for forthcoming analysis that will accompany the data. For now, you will find Excel files with data compiled from surveys of black and white respondents from the late 1950s/early 1960s to today. The files provided here include trend data for surveys published in Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretation, Revised Edition by Howard Schuman, Charlotte Steeh, Lawrence Bobo, and Maria Krysan (Harvard University Press, 1997), as well as additional time points that have become available since 1997.

All files will automatically download when you click on the link. In the navigation menu to the right, you will find summaries, commentary, and technical notes.


How have white and black Americans’ attitudes toward the principle of racial equality changed? 

Topics include questions about schools, jobs, public accommodations, transportation, presidential candidates, intermarriage and housing.

Principles of racial equality—White respondents (.xls file, 82.5KB)

Principles of racial equality—Black respondents (.xls file, 74KB)


How have white and black Americans’ attitudes about government efforts to ensure equal treatment changed?

Topics include government involvement in jobs, schools, housing, and public accommodations.

Government efforts to ensure equal treatment—White respondents (.xls file, 62KB)

Government efforts to ensure equal treatment—Black respondents (.xls file, 57.5KB)


How do white and black Americans feel about different types of contact with each other?

Topics include feelings toward integrated neighborhoods and schools, family members marrying someone of a different race, living near black/white people; and general feelings of closeness to white/black people.

Attitudes about inter-racial contact—White respondents (.xls file, 100KB)

Attitudes about inter-racial contact—Black respondents (.xls file, 75.5KB)


How do white and black Americans explain racial inequality—and how has it changed?

People were asked if inequality between blacks and whites is due to reasons such as: discrimination; fewer opportunities for blacks to pursue education; not trying hard enough; slavery; less ability to learn; and others. 

Explanations for racial inequality—White respondents (.xls file, 82KB)

Explanations for racial inequality—Black Respondents (.xls file, 82KB)


How much discrimination do white and black Americans believe there is—and how has this changed?

Questions were asked about levels of discrimination in a variety of settings including on the job market, education, housing, restaurants, shopping, and interactions with the police.

Perceptions of discrimination and stereotypes—White respondents (.xls file, 78.5KB)

Perceptions of discrimination—Black respondents (.xls file, 61KB)


How have white and black American attitudes toward affirmative action changed?

Topic included questions about government expenditures on programs that assist blacks as well as preferences in hiring and promotion and perceptions of reverse discrimination.

Attitudes toward government expenditures and affirmative action—White respondents (.xls file, 78KB)

Attitudes toward government expenditures and affirmative action—Black respondents (.xls file, 82KB)


How have white and black Americans’ attitudes changed on a variety of other race-related topics?

Questions include how warmly people feel toward racial groups, and opinions of the KKK, the Civil Rights Movement, responses to Riots, and inter-group relations.

Attitudes about miscellaneous racial topics—White respondents (.xls file, 64.5KB)

Attitudes about miscellaneous racial topics—Black respondents (.xls file, 62KB) 


References to this data and website should be made as follows:

Krysan, Maria. 2015. "Data Update to Racial Attitudes in America." An update and website to complement Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretations, Revised Edition, Howard Schuman, Charlotte Steeh, Lawrence Bobo, and Maria Krysan, 1997, Harvard University Press.