The arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. sparked allegations of racism, followed by fierce denials that race played a role in the 911 call or the police response to the report of a possible break-in at his Cambridge home. But social psychology research indicates that regardless of people’s stated attitudes about race, unconscious racial biases can influence their behavior in surprisingly powerful ways.Read the full article here.
That means that people who are not racist may unknowingly behave in ways that reflect racial stereotypes, even when they may disagree with such ideas. One study found that doctors with more unconscious bias against blacks were less likely to give African-American heart attack patients clot-busting medication than white patients. Another found that when participants in a computer simulation were told to shoot criminals but not unarmed citizens or police who appeared on the screen, more black than white men were incorrectly shot. Other work found that children perceived ambiguous, but aggressive behavior as more threatening if the perpetrator was black. ...
“I think our data, obtained from millions and millions of people, show a real disparity between who we think we are, who we say we are . . . and what actually goes on in our heads,’’ said Mahzarin R. Banaji, a Harvard psychology professor who is a leader in studying such implicit bias.
Jul 30, 2009
Racism by reflex
There's plenty of conscious racism out there, but research suggests we're still biased despite our best intentions. From the Boston Globe: