Few white people feel they need to compete with minorities for jobs or for political influence, while minorities are much more likely to feel threatened by whites and other minorities in these areas, according to a new University study.

Whites and minorities believe they face competition from each other mostly based on how well their races have fared historically, the study said.

“Racial minorities who feel they have been discriminated against, they are especially likely to think more for whites means less for them,” said Vincent Hutchings, an associate professor of political science and the study’s lead author.

About 40 percent of blacks said they believe more jobs for other racial and ethnic groups means fewer opportunities for them – twice the number of whites who said the same thing.

All minority groups surveyed indicated that they believed whites were more of a threat to their opportunities than other minorities.

Steve Williams, multicultural coordinator for the University’s Career Center, said there is no sense of racial and ethnic competition for jobs among students.

He said all students find the job search challenging and added that while there is competition, qualified students of any background have a good chance of getting the jobs they want.

“The idea is to make sure that all students, including students of color, are made aware of opportunities,” Williams said.

Many employers are pushing for diversity on their staffs because of the increased focus on the global market, Williams said.

But Hutchings said there is no evidence that exposure to diversity weakens feelings of threats from other races.

Even people who live in diverse neighborhoods and say they have friends from other races often reported feelings of competition, Hutchings said.

“If the aim is to reduce perceptions of intergroup threats by fostering intergroup contacts, our data suggests that’s not going to happen,” he said.

Less than 20 percent of whites said they believed more political influence for other racial and ethnic groups threatened their own political influence, while more than half of all Hispanics, Asians and blacks said more influence for whites threatened their own influence.

To a lesser degree, minority groups also view each other as political competition.

Such feelings of competition can lead to a lack of cooperation among groups on important political issues, Hutchings said.

“People are more likely to see folks in these groups as competition rather than partners,” he said. “And it undercuts the incentive to work together.”

The study, conducted by the Institute for Social Research, marks the first time such a large amount of multi-racial and multi-ethnic national political data has been collected, Hutchings said.

“The literature in political science about why people behave politically has been generated almost exclusively by looking at white Americans,” Hutchings said. “We’re curious as to what theories used to explain political behavior in whites also apply to Asian-Americans or Latinos.”

Some types of political behaviors differ across races, the study found.

For example, the study shows that whites who identify themselves as more religious tend to be Republicans, while blacks who identify as more religious tend to be Democrats.

Other races show little correspondence between faith and political preference.

Fact Box:

50 – percentage of blacks who see whites as a threat in the job market

20 – percentage of whites who believe more good jobs for minorities mean fewer good jobs for them

58 – percentage of Asian-Americans who believe political influence for whites lessens their own political influence

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