White racial identity : its relationship to cognitive complexity and interracial contact
This study was conducted in two parts. In the first part, two assumptions presented in Janet Helms' White Racial Identity (WRI) development model (1990) were tested. First, Helms theorized that one's stage of WRI development is positively related to increased cognitive complexity achievement and suggests that later stages require greater complexity. A second assumption of Helms' theory was that continued interracial contact is essential for advancement in WRI stage development. Part one of this study examined the relationship of cognitive complexity and interracial contact (both formal and informal) to WRI, and the relationship between cognitive complexity and interracial contact as they relate to WRI.Part two of this study consisted of a factor analysis of Helms' WRI measure followed by a second set of analyses examining the relationship between the new obtained factors with contact and cognitive complexity. This analysis allowed a comparison to be made between Helms' 5 WRI stages and the obtained factor solution from the factor analysis. It also allowed a comparison of the relationship between the stages and cognitive complexity and contact and the obtained factor solution and these same variables.Three hundred and sixty eight White undergraduates completed Helms' White Racial Identity Attitude Scale, a 4 x 6 Repertory Grid, measuring cognitive complexity in social settings, and an interracial contact measure, including a measure of both formal and informal types of contact. Results of part one of the analyses indicated that neither cognitive complexity nor cognitive complexity x contact were significantly related to WRI scores. However, contact was significantly related to WRI scores. WRI stage two was positively related and WRI stage four was negatively related to scores on formal contact. Stage 4 was negatively related and stages 2 and 3 were positively related to scores on informal contact.The results of part two indicated again that neither cognitive complexity nor cognitive complexity x contact were significantly related to the obtained WRI factors. However, contact once again was significant. The factor analysis produced a 5 factor solution that while similar in theme and number to the 5 stages, nonetheless indicated a different relationship with contact scores than the stages did. Factor 3 (representing stage 4) was positively related and factor 4 (representing stages 2 and 3) was negatively related to formal contact scores. However, factor 3 (representing stage 4) was positively related and factor 4 (representing stages 2 and 3) were negatively related to scores on informal contact. There were discrepancies across the two parts of the study as to the stages and direction of the relationships between interracial contact (formal and informal) and WRI scores. Some of these results were in opposite directions than either the theory or study expected.These discrepancies are dealt with in chapter 5.