Ethnic Consciousness and Its Relationship to Conservatism and Blame Among African Americans1


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    This paper is based on Susan Johnson's master's thesis conducted in the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida. The authors thank Marty Heesacker for his service as a committee member and for his helpful comments throughout the master's process. We also thank James Shepperd for his service as a committee member, comments throughout the project, and comments on a previous draft of this paper. In addition, we thank the Social Psychology Brown Bag Colloquium group and, in particular, Donna Webster for comments on this project.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lisa M. Brown, Department of Psychology, University of Florida. P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250. e-mail:


Ethnic consciousness is “a set of political beliefs and action orientations arising out of the awareness of similarity” (Gurin, Miller, & Gurin, 1980, p. 30). We suggest that these beliefs relate to political values and views among African Americans. Correlational data revealed that ethnic consciousness is negatively correlated with conservative values. Experimental data revealed that students high in ethnic consciousness blamed a White firm for the termination of an African American employee more than a Black firm for terminating a European American employee. Those low in ethnic consciousness did not discriminate between the Black firm versus the White firm. Consciousness may operate as a means of connecting ethnic identity and political views.