Date of Award

1970

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Weldon Vog't

Abstract

Extending beyond health, white supremacists maintain that Negroes are innately less intelligent than Caucasians. In a statement remarkably comparable to those made two centuries ago by advocates of the theory of American degeneration, one modern-day racist phrases the claim in these words:

Any man with two eyes in his head can observe a Negro settlement in the Congo, can study the pure-blood African in his native habitat as he exists when left on his own resources, can compare this settlement with London or Paris, and can draw hos own conclusions regarding relative levels of character and intelligence.... Finally, he can inquire as to the number of pure-blooded blacks who have made their contributions to great literature or engineering or medicine or philosophy or abstract science.

Such claims assumed special importance among the opponents of the Supreme Court's school desegregation ruing in 1954. Interracial education simply will not work, contended many segregationists; Negro children are too retarded innately to benefit and will only act to drag down the standards of the white children.

Americans are far less receptive to such reasoning now than they were a generation ago. Public opinion poll data reveal that, while only two out of five white Americans regarded Negroes as their intellectual equals in 1942, almost for out of five did by 1956--including a substantial majority of white Southerners. Much of this change is due to the thorough repudiation of racist assertions by the vast majority of modern psychologists and other behavioral scientists. The latest research in this area lends the strongest evidence yet available for this repudiation. This study takes a new look at this old controversy and presents a summary of the relevant research.

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