The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘racial bias’

Racial Bias Among Criminal Defense Lawyers

Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 31, 2012

Andrea Lyon recently posted her article, “Race Bias and the Importance of Consciousness for Criminal Defense Attorneys” (Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 35, p. 755, 2012) on SSRN. Here is the abstract.

The problems of racial bias pervade the criminal justice system. In this paper a subject that is not much talked about — the issue of how racial bias affects defense attorneys and the need for defense attorneys to acknowledge implicit and explicit racial biases as a matter of practice — is examined. Specifically, the paper covers problems of racial bias when defense attorneys make assumptions about (1) their clients, and (2) veniremen during voir dire.

Download the paper for free here.

Related Situationist posts:

Implicit Bias in the Law Conference – This Thursday

Posted in Abstracts, Implicit Associations, Law | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Racial bias clouds ability to feel others’ pain

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 2, 2010

From EurekAlert!:

When people witness or imagine the pain of another person, their nervous system responds in essentially the same way it would if they were feeling that pain themselves. Now, researchers reporting online on May 27th in Current Biology, . . . have new evidence to show that that kind of empathy is diminished when people (black or white) who hold racial biases see that pain is being inflicted on those of another race.

The good news is that people continue to respond with empathy when pain is inflicted on people who don’t fit into any preconceived racial category—in this case, those who appear to have violet-colored skin.

“This is quite important because it suggests that humans tend to empathize by default unless prejudice is at play,” said Salvatore Maria Aglioti of Sapienza Università di Roma.

In the study, conducted in Italy with people of Italian and African descent, participants were asked to watch and pay attention to short films depicting needles penetrating a person’s hand or a Q-tip gently touching the same spot while their empathetic response was monitored. (The researchers specifically measured a feature known as sensorimotor contagion, as indicated by changes in the corticospinal reactivity assessed by transcranial magnetic stimulation.) The results showed that people watching the painful episode responded in a way that was specific to the particular muscle they saw being stimulated when the film character was of the same race. But those of a different race didn’t evoke that same sensorimotor response.

In further studies, the researchers tested individuals’ responses to pain inflicted on models with violet hands. Under those circumstances, participants’ empathetic responses were restored.

“This default reactivity of human beings implies empathy with the pain of strangers (i.e., a violet model) if no stereotype can be applied to them,” said Alessio Avenanti of the Università di Bologna. “However, racial bias may suppress this empathic reactivity, leading to a dehumanized perception of others’ experience.”

The new findings expand on previous studies that have primarily looked at the neural underpinnings of racial bias based on facial expressions, thus emphasizing people’s emotional reaction to the pain of others, the researchers said.

“To the best of our knowledge, our study is the only one that has tested the reactivity to hands and thus hints at the existence of general processes for separating the self from the others that may be largely independent from specific emotions,” the researchers explained.

Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that methods designed to restore empathy for people of other races might also help in dealing with racial prejudice.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “It’s Hard to Step into Someone Else’s Shoes,” “New Study Looks at the Roots of Empathy,” “Afraid of Knowing Ourselves,” Why Race May Influence Us Even When We “Know” It Doesn’t,” The Cognitive Costs of Interracial Interactions,” “Guilt and Racial Prejudice,” “Perceptions of Racial Divide,” and “Hoyas, Hos, & Gangstas.”

Posted in Abstracts, Implicit Associations | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Implicit Associations on Oprah

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 4, 2010

Oprah, Malcolm Gladwell, and Dr. Anthony Greenwald discuss the race-based Implicit Association Test and why some people show an unconscious bias in favor of White people over Black people.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Measuring Implicit Attitudes,” What Are the Legal Implications of Implicit Biases?,” Confronting the Backlash against Implicit Bias,” “Do You Implicitly Prefer Markets or Regulation?,” Legal Academic Backlash - Abstract,” “Naïve Cynicism in Election 2008: Dispositionism v. Situationism?,”  “Implicit Bias and Strawmen.”and “The Situation of Situation in Employment Discrimination Law – Abstract.”

To take the Policy IAT, click here.  For a list of Situationist posts discussing the research on implicit bias and the IAT, click here.

Posted in Implicit Associations, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Measuring Implicit Attitudes

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 28, 2009

From University of Washington News

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Study supports validity of test that indicates widespread unconscious bias

In the decade since the Implicit Association Test was introduced, its most surprising and controversial finding is its indication that about 70 percent of those who took a version of the test that measures racial attitudes have an unconscious, or implicit, preference for white people compared to blacks. This contrasts with figures generally under 20 percent for self report, or survey, measures of race bias.

A new study (pdf here) validates those findings, showing that the Implicit Association Test, a psychological tool, has validity in predicting behavior and, in particular, that it has significantly greater validity than self-reports in the socially sensitive topics of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and age.

The research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is an overview and analysis of 122 published and unpublished reports of 184 different research studies. In this analysis, 85 percent of the studies also included self-reporting measures of the type generally used in surveys. This allowed the researchers, headed by University of Washington psychology Professor Anthony Greenwald, to compare the test’s success in predicting social behavior and judgment with the success of self-reports.

“In socially sensitive areas, especially black-white interracial behavior, the test had significantly greater predictive value than self-reports. This finding establishes the Implicit Association Test’s value in research to understand the roots of race and other discrimination,” said Greenwald. “What was especially surprising was how ineffective standard self-report measurers were in the areas in which the test measures have been of greatest interest – predicting interracial behavior.”

Greenwald created the Implicit Association Test in 1998 and he and [Situationist Contributor] Mahzarin Banaji, a Harvard psychology professor, and [Situationist Contributor] Brian Nosek, a University of Virginia associate professor of psychology, further developed it. Since then the test has been used in more than 1,000 research studies around the world. More than 10 million versions of the test have been completed at an Internet site where they are available as a self-administer demonstration.

The research looked at studies covering nine different areas – consumer preference, black-white interracial behavior, personality differences, clinical phenomena, alcohol and drug use, non-racial intergroup behavior, gender and sexual orientation, close relationships and political preferences.

Findings also showed that:

  • Across all nine of these areas, measures of the test were useful in predicting social behavior.
  • Both the test, which is implicit, and self-reports, which are explicit, had predictive validity independent of each other. This suggests the desirability of using both types of measure in surveys and applied research studies.
  • In consumer and political preferences both measures effectively predicted behavior, but self-reports had significantly greater predictive validity.

Studies in the research came from a number of countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Poland and the United States. They looked at such topics as attitudes of undecided voters one-month prior to an Italian election; treatment recommendations by physicians for black and white heart attack victims; and reactions to spiders before and after treatment for arachnophobia, or spider phobia.

“The Implicit Association Test is controversial because many people believe that racial bias is largely a thing of the past. The test’s finding of a widespread, automatic form of race preference violates people’s image of tolerance and is hard for them to accept. When you are unaware of attitudes or stereotypes, they can unintentionally affect your behavior. Awareness can help to overcome this unwanted influence,” said Greenwald.

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To visit the Project Implicit website and find out more about implicit associations, click here.

For a sample of related Situationist posts, see What Are the Legal Implications of Implicit Biases?,” Confronting the Backlash against Implicit Bias,” “Do You Implicitly Prefer Markets or Regulation?,” Legal Academic Backlash - Abstract,” “Naïve Cynicism in Election 2008: Dispositionism v. Situationism?,”  “Implicit Bias and Strawmen.”and “The Situation of Situation in Employment Discrimination Law – Abstract.”  For a list of Situationist posts discussing the research on implicit bias and the IAT, click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Implicit Associations, Situationist Contributors, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Virtual Bias

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 14, 2008

From Science Daily:

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Americans are spending increasing amounts of time hanging around virtual worlds in the forms of cartoon-like avatars that change appearances according to users’ wills, fly through floating cities in the clouds and teleport instantly to glowing crystal canyons and starlit desert landscapes.

Simply fun and games divorced from reality, right?

Not necessarily so, say two social psychologists from Northwestern University who conducted the first experimental field studies in the virtual world.

They found that avatars in these elaborate fantasylands responded to social cues to help one another — and revealed racial biases – in the same ways that people do in the real world.

The study’s co-investigators are Northwestern’s Paul W. Eastwick, a doctoral student in psychology, and Wendi L. Gardner, associate professor of psychology and member of Northwestern’s Center for Technology and Social Behavior.

In both of the classic social psychology experiments used for the study, one avatar tried to influence another to fulfill a request.

The way the door-in-the-face (DITF) experiment works: the experimenter (in this case an avatar) first makes an unreasonably large request to which the responder is expected to say no, followed by a more moderate request.

As expected, the avatars — similar to people who participated in the same experiment in the real world — were more likely to comply with the moderate request when it was preceded by the large request than when the moderate request was presented alone. They exhibited a psychological tendency to reciprocate the requester’s “concession”: the change from a relatively unreasonable request to a more moderate request.

The experiment’s moderate request: “Would you teleport to Duda Beach with me and let me take a screenshot of you?” In the DITF condition, that request was preceded by a request of the avatar to have screenshots taken in 50 different locations — requiring about two hours of teleporting and traveling.

In one of the most striking findings, the effect of the DITF technique was significantly reduced when the requesting avatar was dark-toned. The white avatars in the DITF experiment received about a 20 percent increase in compliance with the moderate request; the increase for the dark-toned avatars was 8 percent.

“For decades, research has shown that the outcome of that reciprocity-inducing technique is affected by how the requester is perceived, whether a person — or in this case an avatar — is deemed worthy of impressing,” said Gardner.

The finding is consistent with studies in the real world as well as the few in the virtual world that clearly demonstrate that physical characteristics, such as race, gender and physical attractiveness, affect judgment of others.

The study was conducted in There.com, a relatively unstructured online virtual world that brands itself as an online getaway where users can hang out with friends and explore an immense and unusual landscape.

Even in the surreal environment, users, who were unaware that they were part of a psychological study, succumbed to very down-to-earth effects of social influence.

“You would think when you’re wandering around this fantasyland, operating outside of the normal laws of time, space and gravity and meeting all types of strange characters, that you might behave differently,” Eastwick said. “But people exhibited the same type of behavior — and the same type of racial bias — that they show in the real world all the time.”

Numerous studies done in the real world show that people are more uncomfortable with minorities and are less likely to help them.

The study also employed a foot-in-the-door (FITD) technique to boost compliance to the moderate request to be teleported to Duda Beach to participate in a screenshot. Opposite of the door-in-the-face technique, an avatar was first asked to comply with a small request (Can I take a screenshot of you?) followed by the moderate request. The psychology behind this technique is that a person who does a small favor for a stranger is likely to see himself or herself as being helpful and be more likely to fulfill the following larger request. In this case, the skin tone of the requesting avatar didn’t matter, because the elicited psychological effect is related to how a person views herself, and not others.

In at least one sense, worries may be inflated about virtual world users spending too many hours alone at their computers, cut off from reality.

“This study suggests that interactions among strangers within the virtual world are very similar to interactions between strangers in the real world,” Eastwick said.

The study suggests that users in online virtual environments routinely extend their social selves to inhabit their online avatars.

“People are increasing the amount of social interaction that takes place online, whether through participation in virtual worlds or other online communities or even just social networks like Facebook or Twitter,” Gardner said. “And all these environments present potentially fertile testing grounds for new psychological theories.”

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For a sample of some related Situationist posts, see “Judging One by the Actions of Another,” “Virtual Infection, Disease Dynamics, and Human Behavior,” and “The Situation of First-Person Shooters.”  To review a collection of Situationist posts on racial bias, click here.

Posted in Entertainment, Illusions, Implicit Associations, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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