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New Mexico State University professor receives Allport Award

Walter Stephan, a New Mexico State University psychology professor, has been awarded the 2001-2002 Gordon Allport Award by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

won the award for his paper "The Role of Threats in the Racial Attitudes of Blacks and Whites," written with Kurt A. Boniecki, University of Central Arkansas; Oscar Ybarra, University of Michigan; Ann Bettencourt, University of Missouri; Kelly S. Ervin, Washington State University; Linda A. Jackson, Michigan State University; Penny S. McNatt, University of Florida; and C. Lausanne Renfro, New Mexico State University.

The paper describes the results of a study of the attitudes of 1,000 college students -- 500 blacks and 500 whites -- from five universities around the country.

"We wanted to know if people who feel threatened have the most negative attitudes toward the other race," Stephan said.

"We asked the students questions based on four types of perceived threats: 'realistic' threats, which deal with things like economic issues or political power; 'symbolic' threats, or the extent to which people think the other race has different values, beliefs or attitudes; 'intergroup anxiety,' or discomfort in dealing with people from the other race; and finally, 'negative stereotypes,' which is self explanatory," he said.

"What we found is that to the degree students reported any one of these fears they were prejudiced, and the more threatened they felt, the more prejudiced they were," he said.

The Allport Award honors research and scholarship on intergroup relations. It is named in honor of Gordon W. Allport, founder and past president of the society.

Jack King
July 26, 2002