An open access publication of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Spring 2011

Intra-minority Intergroup Relations in the Twenty-First Century

Jennifer A. Richeson and Maureen A. Craig

Jennifer A. Richeson is the Weinberg College Board of Visitors Research and Teaching Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University. Her recent publications include “Predicting Behavior during Interracial Interactions: A Stress and Coping Approach” (with Sophie Trawalter and J. Nicole Shelton), Personality and Social Psychology Review (2009); and “Solo Status Revisited: Examining Racial Group Differences in the Self-Regulatory Consequences of Self-Presenting as a Racial Solo” (with Sarah E. Johnson), Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2009).

Maureen A. Craig is a third-year doctoral student in the social psychology program at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the processes involved with social categorization, stereotyping, and group identities.

Recent projections indicate that by the year 2050, racial minorities will comprise more than 50 percent of the U.S. population.1  That is, during the twenty-first century, the United States is expected to transform into what some call a “majority-minority” nation. Despite this emerging trend, social psychological research on intergroup relations has focused almost exclusively on the attitudes that members of majority, high-status groups and members of minority, low-status groups hold toward one another. Less is known about the psychological dynamics that affect what we have termed “intra-minority intergroup” relations: the attitudes that members of one low-status and/or minority group hold regarding, and the behavior they direct toward, members of a different low-status and/or minority group.2  Given the projected emergence of a majority-minority country, we believe that attention to such intra-minority intergroup relations, in tandem with research on traditional intergroup relations, is critical to our understanding of racial dynamics in the twenty-first century.

In this essay, we consider the broad question of how members of different racial minority groups may evaluate one another in a majority-minority nation. How, for instance, might a majority-minority nation affect the attitudes that Asian Americans express toward members of other racial minority groups (for example, blacks)? We begin with a review of classic social psychological theory regarding .  .  .


  • 1U.S. Census Bureau, National Population Projections–2008 National Population Projections: Summary Tables, summarytables.html (accessed May 11, 2009).
  • 2But see Lawrence D. Bobo and Devon Johnson, “Racial Attitudes in a Prismatic Metropolis: Mapping Identity, Stereotypes, Competition, and Views of Affirmative Action,” in Prismatic Metropolis: Inequality in Los Angeles, ed. Lawrence D. Bobo, Melvin L. Oliver, James H. Johnson, Jr., and Abel Valenzuela, Jr. (New York: Russell Sage, 2000).
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