Chapter 18: Affirmative Action Attitudes: More Complex Than We Know
David A. Kravitz* A pretzel-shaped universe requires pretzel-shaped hypotheses. (Fiedler, 1967: 14) The public debate over affirmative action is often phrased in terms of isolated main effects. Equal opportunity is good and quotas are bad. Liberals love it and conservatives hate it. Target group members support it and those who are not targeted oppose it. Although some research on affirmative action attitudes has been similarly simplistic, most recent work has explored the complexities – the shared variance, mediators, moderators, and non-linear effects. Those complexities, and others that have been ignored, are the focus of this chapter. The chapter is organized around the model given in Figure 18.1, which is an elaboration of a model presented in Kravitz and Klineberg (2000). This figure includes many of the concepts (numbered boxes) and paths (identified with letters) discussed below, but other paths are omitted for the sake of clarity. Researchers studying affirmative action attitudes frequently present information about the affirmative action plan (AAP: Box 1 in Figure 18.1). This work has consistently found that the manipulation of AAP strength affects attitudes. The elimination of discrimination receives the most support, opportunity enhancement practices such as targeted recruitment receive somewhat less support, and procedures that give preferences to affirmative action target group members are opposed (Harrison et al., 2006). Strength of AAP explains more variance in determining affirmative action attitudes than do other predictors (Kravitz, 1995). Why does manipulating AAP strength affect support? To answer that question, one must delve into the black box of the...
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