Racial Perceptions and Evaluative Responses to Welfare: Does Education Attenuate Race-of-Target Effects?



A growing body of research indicates that welfare attitudes may be strongly shaped by negative perceptions of Blacks. This raises questions about what might inhibit the racialization of welfare attitudes. In this vein, a long line of work indicating that education leads to increased tolerance suggests that the relationship between negative racial perceptions and welfare attitudes may be weaker among the highly educated. However, recent studies suggest that the role of education may be more complex: While negative racial perceptions may be less prevalent among the highly educated, the relationship between these perceptions and policy attitudes appears to be stronger among highly educated individuals. The present study attempts to extend this finding by examining the hypothesis that the presence of a racial cue would be more (rather than less) likely to strengthen the relationship between negative racial perceptions and evaluative responses to welfare among college-educated Whites. Data from a survey-based experiment included in the 1991 National Race and Politics Study provided a clear pattern of support for this hypothesis.