Monday, February 28, 2005

My Evening as a Lab Rat

I took part in a psychology experiment run by someone at Rice University today. I left feeling even more disillusioned about the social sciences than I had been.


The experiment involved listening to four job interviews and commenting on each one. The four candidates were a white woman (4.0 GPA, her responses were the stereotypical over-rehearsed comments of someone who was clearly trying to give you the right answer instead of her answer), a black man (who was very well qualified, except for one fairly minor point), and two white males (one of whom was an aggressive, non-thinking Cro-Magnon, the other who seemed a little bit stoned). You were randomly given either instructions to include "Diversity" as a criteria for your evaluations or not.

After the mock interviews, I was given a questionaire about two of the candidates. The gist of the questionaire was whether or not I remembered one or both of the black candidate and the aggressive white candidates as violent/quick tempered/etc.

The hypothesis of the experiment was that being instructed to consider diversity would subconsciously reinforce stereotypes. Obviously the PC interpretation was that, as someone instructed to consider diversity, I would interpret the black guy was an aggressive troublemaker and the white guy was a good ole' boy.

Now, there were a couple of flaws in the study. The really big question was: what do they assume our stereotypes are? I grew up in a small town in East Texas where the only black people I knew were some very genial and nice people from church. I was also a geek as a child and persecuted by jocks. I was biased against the white guy, if anything (which, oddly enough, their set-up wouldn't detect--he was fairly unsuited for the job; bias against him simply wouldn't detect).


Anonymous Griffin said...

That's crazy. Sorry, don't have anything meaningful to add now. Just glad comments are working. =)

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Griffin said...

Hey, Blogger lowercased my name. What do I look like, e.e. cummings? Heh.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Griffin said...

Never mind, it only happens on the comment-posting page.

Hey, look at me, I'm a one-man comment spam machine!

6:45 AM  
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