Relationship of racial preference and locus of control in school children
Landrum, Leslie Karen
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The two major purposes of the present study were to investigate the relationship between locus of control and children's racial preferences, and to investigate whether children who differ in locus of control respond differently to conformity pressures on racial preferences. Additional empirical support for previous studies regarding developmental changes in racial preferences were sought. Subjects were 49 Black and 75 White third, sixth, and eighth graders from North Chicago, Illinois. The Multidimensional Measure of Children's Perception of Control (MMCPC; Connell, 1978) was administered to measure the subjects' internal-external locus of control. After the children completed the MMCPC, four pictures (one each of a White girl, a White boy, a Black girl, and a Black boy) were presented to children in a group setting to measure the children's initial racial preferences (IRP). A week later the experimenter returned to assess the children's conformity to racial preference in different experimental conditions. Several sets of objects that were identical to each other except for color were presented to the subjects. The experimenter then suggested that peers had preferred either one color over another (black or white) depending on experimental conditions. Subjects were asked to write their color preference. Unexpectedly, Black children with an internal locus of control were not found to chose black more often as an initial racial preference than those with an external locus of control. In other words, locus of control was not found to mediate initial racial preference. However, as expected, Black eighth graders gave more black initial racial preference (IRP) responses than either sixth or third graders. Also, Black children with an external locus of control were found to change their initial racial preference more often than Black children with an internal locus of control. In this study external Black children were found to be more sensitive to an outside agents' suggestion of white preference than to the suggestion of a black preference. The student's own-group preferences was discussed. Prom this study there is evidence that Black children prefer black and identify with Blacks more than has been found in earlier studies (Clark & Clark, 1947; Morland, 1966). However, White children seemed to have become less color/racially oriented than was previously the case.