Professor discusses study relating race and attitudes toward violence

Will Clark

White Texans are more likely to hold pro-violence attitudes than Latinos or African-Americans, despite contrary stereotypes, according to research from associate professor Mary Rose .

Rose, who specializes in law and criminology, presented her findings Wednesday , elaborating on her 2013 article in the peer-reviewed journal “Crime & Delinquency,” which used data from a 1400-person survey to determine whether racial backgrounds influenced support of violence.

“Beliefs and people’s individual mindsets about violence is a predictor of violence,” Rose said. “It’s bound up in behavior, and part of what we want to do is to understand more about the contours of those beliefs and better understand what a pro-violence mindset is.”

Rose said a reason for these results could be the “Culture of Honor” that she said exists among southern whites. She also cited a lack of effective policing, causing citizens to take matters of violence into their own hands.

In her study, whites were more likely to agree with statements such as, “It is sometimes necessary for individuals to use violence against other individuals to prevent future violence” and “A person should have the right to kill another person to defend oneself or one’s family,” than other ethnic groups.

Rose, however, said this study was very general, and she would like more data on context for a more nuanced and complete picture.

“I wouldn’t attribute this to something inherent in the people,” Rose said. “Some minority groups do hold these views at higher rates. It almost isn’t a race story, it’s a context story.”

Paloma Diaz, the scholarly programs director for Latin American Studies and Collections , organized the event and said she was inspired after reading Rose’s article.

“It connects so well with what’s happening in the presidential campaign and how people are using misconceptions to mislead people,” Diaz said. “It’s important to bring our research and our scholarly work to illuminate what’s going on behind this misconception.”

Marisol Sánchez, a training specialist with the division of Housing & Food Service, attended the talk and said while she was not disagreeing with Rose’s point, she had trouble reconciling the notion of Latinos being less violent with the prevalent chauvinism in Latin American countries.

“It’s so common in our home countries to see violence towards women,” Sánchez said. “When you’re trying to refute what Trump is saying, how do you refute that, because in our home countries, it’s happening.”