Construct Validation of the Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites Scale for Ashkenazic Jews in the United States

Emile Tobias Berk


This study is a construct validation of the Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites Scale (Spanierman & Heppner, 2004) with Orthodox and non-Orthodox Ashkenazic (of European descent) American Jews. While Jewish-American biculturalism has been explored at length, there is a dearth of psychological research on Jewish-White biculturalism (Langman, 1999). Furthermore, the literature has yet to explore the impact of Jewish religious diversity on Ashkenazic-American self-perception as racially White beneficiaries of unearned privilege.

The Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites Scale (PCRW) measures three dimensions of White racial attitudes: White Empathic Reactions Towards Racism, White Guilt, and White Fear of Others. The PCRW has been validated on multiple university samples (Sifford, Ng & Wang, 2009; Spanierman & Heppner, 2004) as well as with an employed post-university sample (Poteat & Spanierman, 2008). This study tests the psychometric validity of the PCRW factor structure with racially White Jews (Research Question 1) and examines differences in the factor structures of Orthodox and non-Orthodox samples (Research Question 1).

Using confirmatory factor analyses, the results indicated that the original PCRW factor structure is statistically valid for non-Orthodox Ashkenazic American Jews (i.e., those who identify as Conservative or Reform) but not with their Orthodox counterparts. Subsequent exploratory factor analyses revealed that item loadings for the non-Orthodox sample were nearly identical to the original PCRW model, while fewer items loaded on smaller factors for the Orthodox sample. The factor orders of the two samples also varied. While a factor identical to the White Guilt subscale accounted for the most variance explained in the non-Orthodox group, a factor composed of similar items accounted for the least variance explained in the Orthodox sample. The study discusses limitations, implications, and directions for future research.