Prejudice & Stereotyping: Experimental Approach

Prejudice & Stereotyping: Experimental Approach

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    • 00:05

      [Prejudice & Stereotyping: Experimental Approach]

    • 00:09

      KEON WEST: I'm Dr. Keon West. [Dr. Keon West, SocialPsychologist & Lecturer, Goldsmiths, Universityof London] I'm a social psychologistand a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London,in the UK, but I'm not actually from the UK.I'm from Jamaica and just happen to work here.I'll be talking to you about a case study on stereotypesand discrimination.Specifically, I'll be looking at the question,do people judge Muslims more harshly than white non-Muslims?

    • 00:32

      KEON WEST [continued]: And I'll use that to help us understand some of the broaderissues around stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.Prejudice is a huge topic, and a very emotional one.It's hard not to feel, in some way, personally affectedby conversations about prejudice.People don't like being the victims of prejudice.It's unfair.

    • 00:52

      KEON WEST [continued]: It can be mean, or nasty, or even dangerous.People don't like being accused of being prejudiced, either.It disrupts their perceptions of themselves as good people.It challenges the idea that the world is a fair place,and it can undermine the work and effortthat they put into getting where they are.Telling someone that they just got a particular job

    • 01:13

      KEON WEST [continued]: because they're male, or because they're female, or justbecause they're black, or because they're white,can be very hurtful.Beyond that, discussions about prejudice almostinvariably stray into non-scientific areas.People talk about what should happen,or what ought to happen.For example, even people who accept

    • 01:33

      KEON WEST [continued]: that certain positions have discriminated in the past basedon gender or ethnicity may disagree about whatwe should do about it.Whether we should employ affirmative action policies,for example.Science doesn't tell us that.It can tell us facts about the world,or facts about what society is like.If we decide what kind of world we want,science can tell us how to get there.

    • 01:55

      KEON WEST [continued]: But science on its own can't tell uswhat society should be like, or what actions we should take.And even when we talk about purely scientific facts, factsthat are specific and can be backed upwith externally verifiable objective data,the situation is often complex.[Laurie Rudman, Self promotion as a risk factor for women,Journal of personality and social psychology (1998)] Astudy by Professor Laurie Rudman, for example,

    • 02:16

      KEON WEST [continued]: shows that women in the workplace tend to be viewedas less competent than men do.But also that they tend to speak less about their own competencethan the men.Both these things happen for a variety of reasons,and it's easy to get lost in any discussion about prejudice.Psychology is a science. [psychology is a science]Specifically, the science of human--

    • 02:37

      KEON WEST [continued]: and, to a lesser extent, non-human-- thoughts,emotions, and behaviors.And in science, it's usually a good ideato focus on one clear, specific hypothesis at a time,and see if you find support for it.So instead of tackling the whole, huge, daunting questionof prejudice, I'm going to focus on one tiny, specific question.

    • 02:59

      KEON WEST [continued]: When we've answered that, we can expand backinto the bigger questions.And that tiny question is this: for the same behaviors,are Muslims judged more harshly than white non-Muslims?[Are Muslims judged more harshly than White non-Muslims?]Particularly since the September 11 attacks in 2001 in New York

    • 03:22

      KEON WEST [continued]: City, [September 11, 2001 attacks]and since the London bombings of 2005, [London bombings,2005] Muslims have received a lot of bad press.And there's no denying that some Muslims havedone some pretty bad things.But, some white non-Muslims have alsodone some pretty bad things, like the recent 2015 shootingin a church in Charleston, South Carolina, United States,

    • 03:45

      KEON WEST [continued]: in which a white man shot and killed nine people, all black.There's also the 2011 attacks in Norway,when a white Norwegian shot and killed 69 teenagers.So both Muslims and white non-Muslims can do bad things,but some people-- for example, an article in the WashingtonPost-- [In the news media, are Muslims the only 'terrorists'?Washington Post (June 10, 2014)] claim that the behaviors are

    • 04:07

      KEON WEST [continued]: judged differently when Muslims do them compared to when whitenon-Muslims do them.They say that Muslims are more likely to be labeledterrorists, and that the Muslims' behaviors arejudged more harshly.But is this true?Fortunately, this is a scientific question,and it can be given a scientific answer.

    • 04:28

      KEON WEST [continued]: [Scientific Study]How do we go about scientificallyanswering the question, for the same behaviors,are Muslims judged more harshly than white non-Muslims?[you cannot ask people] Well, one thing you can't do is askpeople.If you ask people that question, you'll get a lot of opinions,but you don't actually know what happens in the real world.

    • 04:51

      KEON WEST [continued]: Similarly, you could ask a lot of peopleif they judge Muslims more harshly than non-Muslims,but they are unlikely to give you a scientifically accurateanswer.This might be because they adjust their answersto preserve a positive image of themselves,or because they might not even know whether they judge Muslimsmore harshly or not.So simply asking people won't work.

    • 05:12

      KEON WEST [continued]: You'll have to conduct some kind of scientific study.This also isn't a case where correlationwould be very helpful. [correlation would notbe helpful] Correlation is just a statistical relationshipbetween two variables.So two variables are correlated if one goes upas the other goes up, that's a positive correlation,or if one goes up as the other goes down,that's a negative correlation.This would not be a practical way of testing this hypothesis.

    • 05:35

      KEON WEST [continued]: Even if you could find some meaningful dataon whether a particular perpetrator was Muslimand how harshly that perpetrator was judged,each act, and each report about each act,differs in so many ways that it wouldbe hard to isolate the effect of the perpetrator'sreligious identity.And even if you could isolate that effect,

    • 05:55

      KEON WEST [continued]: you would still just have a correlation,which isn't evidence of a causal relationship.To answer this one properly, you'd need an experiment.In your experiment, you'd have to createtwo different versions of the same story,[two different versions of the same story]in which you manipulate the religion of the perpetrator--that is, Muslim versus non-Muslim-- while keepingall other things about the event constant.

    • 06:17

      KEON WEST [continued]: Then, you'd have to ask participantsto judge the two sets of identical behaviors,and see if there is any difference.Only then, if you found a difference,could you say that the perpetrator's Muslim identitycaused the participants to judge him, or her, more harshly.Even then, you'd have to be careful.If the participants knew what you're doing,

    • 06:37

      KEON WEST [continued]: they might change their answers accordingly.They might either to try to help you with your experiment,and then judge the Muslim more harshly,or they might resent the notion that they'rebeing unfair to Muslims, and thus deliberately judgethe Muslim less harshly.To make the experiment work, you'dhave to keep your intention a secret.[keep your intentions secret] Thismeans that participants can't knowthat there are two different versions of the same story.

    • 06:59

      KEON WEST [continued]: They can't know why you're asking them to judge behaviors.The less they know, the better.If you did all this, and you did it properly,then you would have a scientific answer to the question,for the same behaviors, are Muslimsjudged more harshly than white non-Muslims?[The Answer to the Question]

    • 07:23

      KEON WEST [continued]: So what is the answer?Are Muslims judged more harshly for the same behaviorsthan white non-Muslims?Well, I'll tell you about two studies that I did witha colleague, Doctor Joda Lloyd, and one of my researchassistants, Will Brown. [Dr. Joda Lloyd, Will Brown]And I'll tell you what we found.In the first study, we did exactly what I described above.

    • 07:44

      KEON WEST [continued]: We created two different versions of the same story thatwere exactly the same, except that onewas about a Muslim perpetrator, and the otherwas about a non-Muslim perpetrator.To do this we took a real story, the news story about the 2011attacks in Norway.We created a modified version of this story, wherewe changed the relevant names and religious affiliations,

    • 08:06

      KEON WEST [continued]: so that the attacker was a Muslim.We then showed people these two, almost identical, stories--each person only saw one version of the story--and asked them to judge the behaviorof the attacker in the article.And what did we find?Despite the fact that the behaviors wereexactly the same, our participants judged

    • 08:26

      KEON WEST [continued]: the Muslim perpetrator more harshlythan the non-Muslim perpetrator. [judged the Muslim perpetratormore harshly] This difference was alsowhat we call statistically significant,meaning that it was big enough, and regular enough,not to have occurred by chance.So our participants did judge Muslims more harshlythan non-Muslims, but we didn't stop there.

    • 08:46

      KEON WEST [continued]: To be sure of any finding in science,you have to be able to replicate it.That means that if you do the same thing again,you should find the same result. So wedid another very similar experiment,in which we took a real article about a Muslim perpetratorand altered the names to make an almost identical articleabout a white, non-Muslim perpetrator.

    • 09:08

      KEON WEST [continued]: Once again, we showed these two articlesto a group of participants and askedthem to judge the behaviors.Did we find the same result this time?Yes, we did.Again, despite the fact that the behaviors were exactlythe same, our participants judged the Muslim perpetratormore harshly than the non-Muslim perpetrator.[judged the Muslim perpetrator more harshly]

    • 09:29

      KEON WEST [continued]: And again, this difference was statistically significant.So we can conclude that yes, for the same behaviors,Muslims are judged more harshly than white non-Muslims.[Muslims are judged more harshly than White non-Muslims]These two studies are currently part of a manuscript that'sunder review.That means that other scientists are examining it to make sureit stands up to scrutiny, and that the results showwhat I say they show.

    • 09:50

      KEON WEST [continued]: Once that process is finished, it should be published,and then other scientists can conduct other studiesto see the results hold up and what else wecan learn from them.[Back to the Bigger Question]So we've answered one small question about prejudiceand discrimination.

    • 10:10

      KEON WEST [continued]: We conducted two scientific experiments,and found that participants judged Muslimsmore harshly than white non-Muslims,despite doing exactly the same behaviors.How does this relate to the broader question of prejudicein society? [how does this relate to the broader questionof prejudice in society?]Well, these findings are just a very, very small sampleof the vast wealth of research produced

    • 10:32

      KEON WEST [continued]: by social psychologists every year on topics like these.For example, by conducting research similar to this,other psychologists have found that,for the same qualifications, womenare less likely to be hired than men are,and are offered less money.Black people are also less likely to behired than white people with the same qualifications,

    • 10:52

      KEON WEST [continued]: and unarmed black people are morelikely to be accidentally shot by the police thatunarmed white people.There are tens of thousands of studies like these,and research like this has often foundmany-- often very unpleasant-- but nonetheless,scientifically accurate answers.Of course, this is far from resolving all discussions

    • 11:13

      KEON WEST [continued]: on prejudice and discrimination.Many situations are still very complex,and it can still be hard to know what we should do about it.Still, it's good to know that not all conversationsabout prejudice and discriminationmust be restricted to opinion and emotion.Most of our questions-- or many of our questions--are scientific, or empirical in nature,

    • 11:35

      KEON WEST [continued]: and we can find real, testable, demonstrable answers to themif we have the scientific knowledge and disciplineto look for them.

Prejudice & Stereotyping: Experimental Approach

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Abstract

Dr. Keon West explains that it is difficult to make broad factual claims about prejudice and discrimination, but careful scientific experiments can show evidence of discriminatory attitudes. He highlights his findings on the question, "Do people judge Muslims more harshly than white non-Muslims?"

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Prejudice & Stereotyping: Experimental Approach

Dr. Keon West explains that it is difficult to make broad factual claims about prejudice and discrimination, but careful scientific experiments can show evidence of discriminatory attitudes. He highlights his findings on the question, "Do people judge Muslims more harshly than white non-Muslims?"

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