Social distances of whites to racial or ethnic minorities




Michalikova, Nina
Yang, Philip Q.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Association For Ethnic Studies


Prior research on social distance between racial or ethnic groups in the United States has focused mainly on attitudes of white Americans toward African Americans. Extending previous research, this study analyzes social distances of whites to racial or ethnic minority groups by investigating how whites feel about blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. The main hypothesis is that whites feel coolest toward blacks, warmest toward Asians, and somewhat in between toward Hispanics. The 2002 General Social Survey and ordinary least squares regression are used to test the hypothesis. The results indicate that contrary to our hypothesis, whites feel coolest toward Asians, warmest toward Hispanics, and somewhat in between toward blacks. Nativity, religious similarity/dissimilarity, racial hierarchy and tension, proximity of the country of origin, and group diversity may offer plausible explanations for the unexpected result. This study also examines which types of whites are more likely to maintain a greater or smaller social distance with the three minority groups. Implications of the findings for race and ethnic relations today are addressed.


Article originally published in Ethnic Studies Review, 34(1), 21–44. English. Published online 2011.


Social distance, Whites, Minorities, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians


This is the published version of an article that is available at: Recommended citation: Michalikova, N., & Yang, P. Q. (2011). Social distances of whites to racial or ethnic minorities. Ethnic Studies Review, 34(1), 21–44. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.