First Advisor

Hugo Maynard

Term of Graduation

Winter 1995

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Portland State University -- Students -- Attitudes, Racism -- Oregon -- Portland -- Psychological aspects, Discrimination in higher education -- Oregon -- Portland, Portland (Or.) -- Race relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 48 pages)


This study investigated the effects of self-esteem, controllability, and optimism, the constructs inherent in positive illusions, on perceived racism. The perceived racism scale in this study was found to contain two dimensions, Equal Opportunity (EO) racism and Authority (AUT) racism. Thirty-seven African-American, 64 Asian-American and 100 White-American students at Portland States University (101 females, 100 males and mean age of 25 years) served as subjects. The findings revealed that both African- and Asian-American students perceived a racist atmosphere from peer students (EO racism) significantly higher than did the White-American students. However, only African-American students perceived greater racism from faculty members (AUT racism) than the White-American students. None of the illusions had an effect on perceived EO racism. However, all types of illusions (self-esteem, controllability and optimism) had a significant effect on perceived racism from faculty members (AUT racism). Higher perception of AUT racism was correlated with less self-esteem (r̲ = -.089, p̲ = .12), less controllability (r̲ = -.319, p̲ < .001), and less optimism (r̲ = -.144, p̲ = .03). The results of this study support empirical evidence showing that the illusions, especially controllability, change individuals in how they perceive racism when the racism is practiced by authorities.


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