University Research Shows the Race of Residents Is a Major Factor in How Whites Evaluate Neighborhoods

Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted a social science experiment with 600 white adults. The test subjects were shown videos of neighborhoods with actors posing as residents. The neighborhoods ranged from working-class areas to upper-middle-class suburbs. In some videos the actors were all white. In some the actors were black, and in some others the actors were both black and white. The actors were shown picking up mail, talking to neighbors, or doing yard work.

Test subjects were asked to evaluate the neighborhoods on whether they looked safe, were well kept, and what their estimate was for the average price of a home.

The results showed that the race of the actors had a significant impact on how whites viewed the particular neighborhood. Whites who saw a neighborhood with only white actors rated the neighborhood significantly higher than whites who saw the identical neighborhood but with black actors or where the actors were both black and white.

The research was published in Du Bois: Social Science Research on Race, a journal edited by esteemed Harvard sociologist Lawrence Bobo.