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The effect of outgroup avoidance preference on house style preference
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Previous studies in the architectural literature have examined house style and neighborhood preferences as functions of socioeconomic differences. These studies indicated subjects generally preferred house styles and neighborhoods that reflected their individual identities and social identities (e.g., social class). In addition, the studies suggested that houses acted as symbols of these identities for both the homeowners and the general public. Sociological research suggests that neighborhood preferences are also a function of preferences to avoid members of particular racial/ethnic groups (outgroup avoidance preference), especially according to stereotypes individuals have about the racial/ethnic group. Thus, house style and neighborhood preferences may be influenced by racial/ethnic group preferences as well as social class. The present study attempted to synthesize these ideas from the architectural and sociological literature and determine (1) whether house styles acted as symbols of the ethnicity of occupants (house style stereotypes), and (2) whether this symbolism affected preferences for the house styles according to preferences for the corresponding racial/ethnic groups. A total of 150 college students were surveyed on their preferences for five house styles (Neo-Tudor, Williamsburg, Neo-Victorian, American Vernacular, Neo-French Eclectic) and five racial/ethnic groups (African Americans, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, Whites). Subjects filled out questionnaires which measured these preferences based on (1) rankings of house styles, (2) assignments of racial/ethnic groups to house styles, and (3) ratings of different neighborhood racial/ethnic composition scenarios. The study results indicate individuals did consistently associate particular house styles with ethnic groups. However, there was no strong evidence to suggest a general relationship between these associations, outgroup avoidance preferences, and house style preferences. Instead, the findings suggest that there is a relationship between the variables in only certain instances. Thus, while houses may act as symbols of particular racial/ethnic groups, preferences for house styles may be less significant than other variables (e.g., social class) in influencing house style preferences.
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Includes bibliographical references: p. 28-30.
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Walker, Verrick Dernell (1997). The effect of outgroup avoidance preference on house style preference. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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