According to the researchers, the study contradicts the notion of a "post-racial" society ushered in by President Barack Obama's election.
"It's a pretty surprising finding when you think of the wide range of disparities that still exist in society, most of which show black Americans with worse outcomes than whites in areas such as income, home ownership, health and employment," study researcher Samuel Sommers, a psychologist at Tufts University, said in a statement.
Sommers and his colleagues asked a nationwide sample of 208 blacks and 209 whites to complete questionnaires asking how much racial discrimination each group experienced from the 1950s onward. While both groups agreed on the amount of racial discrimination in the 50s, whites believe that racism against blacks decreased faster than blacks do. (Read: Rare Individuals Have No Racial Biases)
The biggest difference, however, was that whites believe that anti-white bias has increased as anti-black bias has decreased. On average, the researchers found, whites rated anti-white racism as more prevalent in the 2000s than anti-black bias by more than a full point on a 10-point scale. Eleven percent of whites said whites are currently "very much" targets of discrimination, compared with 2 percent of blacks who said blacks are "very much" discrimination targets.
The study suggests that whites see racial equality as a zero-sum game, in which one group wins at the other's expense.
"These data are the first to demonstrate that not only do whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do blacks, but whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality -- at their expense," Sommers and his colleagues wrote in May in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.