Re-analyzing Porteus and Babcock’s “Temperament and Race”: Evidence for Socio-cultural Polarization rather than Racial Hierarchy in 1920s Hawai`i

By Jeffrey Kamakahi.

Published by The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this study, Porteus and Babcock’s 1926 book, “Temperament and Race”, on racial differences in Hawai`i is critiqued, and the tabular data presented within it is reanalyzed using unidimensional unfolding techniques. Porteus and Babcock attempt to show that racial differences are genetic, temperament (as measured by the Porteus Maze) is independent of standard Binet I.Q. tests, and that race is an explanation for social maladjustment differences. A meta-analysis of several tables in the text demonstrates that a single template (J-scale arrangement) of races using unidimensional unfolding techniques scales virtually all the data. Thus, it can be concluded that temperament, I.Q., and social inequalities are collinear. Given the particular arrangement of races on the template, a socio-cultural polarization interpretation trumps a racial hierarchy thesis. On one end of the template, are the groups allied with the Hawaiian kingdom’s culture (Native Hawaiians and the Chinese), and on the other extreme are the other larger, non-indigenous cultures in 1920s Hawai`i (i.e., Caucasians, Japanese, and Portuguese). The center of the template has groups that did not have large influences in the development of local culture at the time (i.e., Puerto Ricans and Philipinos).

Keywords: Race, Hawaii, Hawai’i, Temperament, Unfolding, I.Q., Maladjustment, Genetics

The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies, Volume 10, Issue 1, 2012, pp.15-27. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 460.162KB).

Dr. Jeffrey Kamakahi

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA

I am a Native Hawaiian sociologist. I have done research on a variety of topics including identity, folksongs, health and health practices, international development, and the right-to-die movement in the U.S. Much of my research involves social change, inequalities, and/or Native Hawaiians. I teach courses in social statistics, world populations, social psychology, and medical sociology. I have done a teaching Fulbright in Japan, have directed semester-long study abroad programs to Japan, China, and Australia, and have studied child malnutrition and education in Honduras. Presently, I am interested in the relationship between temporality and the self in the contexts of narrative presentations, ongoing medical diagnoses, and the creation of alternative pasts.