Who would claim to be that, who was not? Evaluations of an ethnic validation procedure.

Record Number: 
OXEN007
Citation: 

Oxendine, David B., and Rupert W. Nacoste. "Who would claim to be that, who was not? Evaluations of an ethnic validation procedure." Journal of applied social psychology 37.7 (2007): 1594-1629.

Annotation: 

The research on which this interesting article is allows the authors to explore new ground in the scholarly conversation on federal acknowledgment for the Lumbee.

The article investigates the nature of procedural justice; relates the concept to procedures that are used to authenticate membership in racial or ethnic groups; and, describes a research study of an ethnic validation procedure. The study's participants answered a questionnaire that elicited their reactions to the fairness and voice of the procedure. Finally, the authors comment on the implications of their study on members of the Lumbee tribe, who must undergo ethnic validation procedures in order to obtain true federal acknowledgment.

The articles provide, at the outset, clear and helpful definitions and discussions of several concepts related to procedural justice, at some points using affirmative action as an illustration. They discuss procedural interdependence (a concept developed by Nacoste), particularistic criteria, universalistic factors, low voice, high voice, and procedural stigma. They also discuss three dimensions of voice: true-voice, mis-voice, and forced-voice. They briefly summarize some of the research on justifications and explanations for the use and/or the results of a procedure. Research has shown that ". . . providing a reasonable justification or explanation for a decision has a generally positive effect on reactions to that decision, especially if the outcome is unfavorable" (p. 1600). With this in mind, the authors explain that their research study introduces ". . . an a priori procedural justification of a rationale for the procedure" (p. 1600); their study is one of the first to test a priori justification.

The authors' research study focused on the perceived fairness of, and the effects of justification on, an ethnic validation procedure. The procedure is to determine whether self-identified White Americans are "true White Americans." The study used three different procedural conditions on its participants, who were 120 college undergraduate students (60 males and 60 females) in an Introductory Psychology course. One group (called White Americans Participating, or WAP) was given actual physical measurements (including measuring the skull, the distance from the earlobes to the fingertips, and the distance between the nose and ears). Another group (White Americans Observing, or WAO) read a description of the validation procedure and the rationale for it. A third, control group read a for a research study that was did not mention ethnic validation procedures at all. Some participants received a procedural justification for the research that said it was sponsored by the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security. Others received a procedural justification stating that the research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. All participants then completed an Americanism questionnaire consisting of twenty questions.

The questionnaire was analyzed using Bane's (1994) four dimensions of voice, along with a factor analysis on five items concerning fairness and satisfaction. The authors provide a very detailed description and discussion of the results. In brief, they state: "The results of this study show that (1) ethnic-validation procedures that involve providing information that is perceived to be irrelevant to the decision are evaluated as unfair; (b) ethnic-validation procedures that create ambiguous procedural conditions are evaluated as unfair; and (c) ethnic-validation procedures that are justified with a condition that may include elements of material risks are evaluated as unfair" (p. 1621).

The authors conclude with an "example case" in which they make astute applications of their findings to the scrutiny and processes the Lumbee have undergone, and will continue to undergo, in their quest for full federal acknowledgment.

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