Friday, March 21, 2008

Interesting Race Bias Studies

In an attempt to respond to Ashley and Katie's blog posts about the doll experiments, I stumbled upon some very interesting studies about the origins and effects of the implicit biases discussed this week in class. I've provided short synopses of the experiments below, along with links to the studies themselves. I hope this sheds some light on what an implicit bias truly entails.

1) This study experimented with expressed steretype inhibition (or lack thereof) when affected with alcohol. The results go to show that as more alcohol gets consumed, the more adamant individuals get about their stereotypes. This gives credit to supporters of the IAT by offering evidence that biases, however repressed, still exist. Moreso, alcohol's ability to relieve the mental barriers of biases offers insight into the extent and passion that one can hold for a certain stereotype, providing some quantitative information that may, or may not, be relevant in potential legal cases that may arise due to implicit discrimination.

2) This next study offers insight into the mental activity as one attempts to control his/her biases. The frontal lobe, which is largely responsible for cognitive control, "lights up" when biased individuals are presented with a stereotypical situation. The study goes to describe that the presence of implicit biases, when activated by an activity that employs that bias (the students taking part in the study went through an interracial interview), is mentally draining and exhausting to the biased individual's brain - affecting intellectual performance after the study. Cool, huh?

3) This next article, I believe, really gets to the heart of what we were discussing this week. In a Harvard study on race biases, a hypothetical scenario was presented to a group of physicians in which the subject in question had a life-threatening case, yet was white in some scenarios, and black in the others. Accompanying the study was a short survey to assess the respective doctor's implicit biases. The results go to show that the probability of a black person recieveing the potential life-saving remedy decreased as the doctor's respective biases increased. Though the results seem obvious yet disturbing, the article has a great take-home message which one of the doctors expressed; "It's not a matter of you being a racist. It's really a matter of the way your brain processes information influenced by things you've seen, things you've experienced, [and] the way media has presented things."

I hope that these articles provide some insight into what governs all of our biases, however (un)aware we truly are of them. Thanks to Ashley and Katie for making me look these up.


Blogger Ashley said...

First off, I want to thank Vic for looking up those articles…all very interesting I must say! The second article though I found most interesting because they focused on 30 white students and how they felt. Why do you think they didn’t include African American students in that study? It would have been a better study in my opinion to see what the results would be of people in other races. There are many Hispanics, people of Asian descent, or Native Americans here in the United States. It would have been interesting to see if they had the same views as whites did or if they have a positive connotation with African Americans. It would have also been interesting to see how someone was white would do under having a Hispanic or Asian American interview them. Do you think the results would have been the same?
I sometimes think we are too focused on the issue of black and white. And I am NOT saying that discrimination doesn’t exist within that mix of races, especially with blacks, but we have so many other races and cultures here in the United States that is growing as well. Do you think if we started exploring these different races it might cut down on racism and we won’t have as many problems as we did before?

What do you guys think?

9:01 AM  
Blogger Vic Simianu said...

I think that most studies concentrate on the black and white issue since it represents (don't quote me on this) the largest, or most popular, base for race discrimination. The more widely held a bias is, the easier it is to find test subjects and survey participants. The results/lessons that are gained from these studies go to show that the biases merely exist. The fact that the subject matter is based on the black and white issue may or may not be crucial. Therefore, I believe that, in most cases, the results can be paralleled for other races, and sometimes even gender discrimination. That being said, I agree 100% that we need to observe the studies from different perspectives as opposed to just black and white....and many of them are popping up. The study below goes to show "serious tensions" between these minority groups. Click here to take a look. I hope this helps a bit.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Vic Simianu said...

...And apparently the hyperlink failed, so here's the link :)

2:35 PM  

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