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Racial Stereotypes Persist in US, Study Finds

NEARLY three-quarters of non-Hispanic Americans think Hispanics are more likely to choose to live off welfare and 50 percent see them as more prone to violence than whites, a survey on racial stereotypes shows. In addition, 78 percent of whites surveyed said blacks are more likely to ``prefer living off welfare'' and less likely to ``prefer to be self-supporting'' than whites, the study found.

`Racial dilemma'

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``This survey tells us in no uncertain terms that the American racial dilemma lives on,'' says sociology Prof. Lawrence Bobo of the University of California at Los Angeles.

Conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, the survey released Tuesday looks at Americans' perceptions of six groups: whites, blacks, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, Jews, and white Southerners.

Professor Bobo, who chaired the committee that designed the survey's questions, calls the results of interviews with 1,372 American adults ``a clear and sobering picture of modern racial stereotypes.''

Sixty-two percent of whites surveyed indicated they thought blacks tend to be lazier than whites, while 56 percent viewed blacks as more violence-prone than whites and 53 percent saw them as less intelligent.

In rating Hispanics, 74 percent of non-Hispanics surveyed thought Hispanics were more likely than whites to prefer accepting welfare assistance, 56 percent saw them as lazier, and 50 percent viewed them as more prone to violence. Fifty-five percent thought Hispanics are less likely to be as intelligent as whites.

Those surveyed rated Asian-Americans and white Southerners lower than average whites in the same categories, while Jews fared somewhat better.

Addressing the causes

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Bobo said the most surprising result of the survey was the high number of whites who believe blacks and Hispanics prefer welfare dependence.

``If we could reduce the number of blacks and Hispanics in poverty, I think we could begin to see the erosion of these stereotypes,'' he says.

Tom Smith, a social scientist and the survey's director, says on the positive side, survey respondents who were better educated were less likely to have stereotypical perceptions of minorities.

``One would hope targeted education focusing on multi-culturalism ... might even go further to help remove some of the negative images,'' he says.

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