Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Lewis Walker

Second Advisor

Subhash Sonnad

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study used two contrasting theoretical perspectives in an assessment of college students' attitudes toward affirmative action policies for women and minorities. One perspective was Wellman's (1977) Interest Theory of Discrimination and the other one was based on the Minority Identity Development Model constructed by Atkinson, Morten and Sue ( 198 9) . Survey methods were utilized to gather data from 479 undergraduate students enrolled in a midwestern university. Following the development model, it was argued that white female students and black students (both males and females) would have favorable attitudes toward affirmative action policies because of their minority status. Conversely, following Wellman's "interest theory of discrimination," the attitudes of white male college students would be unfavorable toward affirmative action policies.

The minority identity/true consciousness perspective explains many, but not all, of this study' s findings. That the white female and black college students have not developed "true consciousness" regarding their mutual minority status is suggested by the data. Likewise, Wellman's (1977) interest theory was also useful in explaining some of the findings.