A Reading List on Implicit Bias: Race

A Reading List on Implicit Bias: Race September 20, 2017


One of the first posts I ever wrote for Daylight Atheism, “On Presuppositions“, discusses how implicit prejudices about race and gender influence our actions – even among people who don’t consciously endorse those prejudices. The post discussed the famous Implicit Association Test, which shows among other things that the vast majority of people take less time to link positive concepts with whites and negative concepts with African-Americans than to do the opposite.

The IAT is one demonstration of how these poisonous memes are circulating in society, whether we perceive them or not, and affect our choices and our reactions at an unconscious level. In an individual case it can be hard to see, but when you step back and look at the larger set of data, an undeniable pattern emerges.

For future reference, today I want to provide a list of links I’ve collected over the past several years that back up this point when it comes to racial prejudice. I don’t expect this to sway a hardcore bigot, but for those who are still on the fence, I’m hoping it will be a valuable resource showing that this phenomenon is real. I’ll update this page with new studies as I come across them, and if you have other examples, feel free to list them in the comments.

Employers’ Replies to Racial Names, National Bureau of Economic Research, September 2003:

Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback. This would suggest either employer prejudice or employer perception that race signals lower productivity.

For People Of Color, A Housing Market Partially Hidden From View, NPR, June 2013:

A new study has found that blacks, Latinos and Asians looking for homes were shown fewer housing options than whites who were equally qualified. And fewer options meant higher housing costs.

Reviewers will find more spelling errors in your writing if they think you’re black, Vox, April 2014:

In an experimental context, when reviewers were told the author of a legal brief was black they consistently rated identical pieces lower in quality and identified more spelling, grammar, factual, or analytical errors.

Professors Are Prejudiced, Too, The New York Times, May 2014:

Professors were more responsive to white male students than to female, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese students in almost every discipline and across all types of universities. We found the most severe bias in disciplines paying higher faculty salaries and at private universities.

• “How Not to Pick Judges“, The New York Times, May 2014:

The data show that, even when matching comparable candidates, the bar association rates minorities and women significantly lower than their white or male counterparts. For example, African-Americans are 42 percentage points less likely to receive a “well qualified” (or “exceptionally well qualified,” when that category was still being used) rating than are whites who have comparable educational and professional qualifications and are nominated by the same president.

• “Deadly Force, in Black and White“, ProPublica, October 2014:

Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.

When ‘Deshawn’ And ‘Greg’ Act Out In Class, Guess Who Gets Branded A Troublemaker, Huffington Post, April 2015:

When it came to a student’s first infraction, there was no difference in the teachers’ attitudes toward the white and black students. After reading about a second infraction, however, the teachers were more likely to feel troubled by the black students’ behavior, to want to mete out severe punishment, and to label the student a troublemaker.

Discretion and Disproportionality: Explaining the Underrepresentation of High-Achieving Students of Color in Gifted Programs, AERA Open, January 2016:

We document that even among students with high standardized test scores, Black students are less likely to be assigned to gifted services in both math and reading, a pattern that persists when controlling for other background factors, such as health and socioeconomic status, and characteristics of classrooms and schools.

Study shows African Americans discriminated against in access to US local public services, University of Southampton, August 2015:

Requests for information from local public services, like sheriffs’ offices, school districts and libraries, across the United States are less likely to receive a reply if signed by ‘black-sounding’ names, according to new research conducted by economists at IZA and the University of Southampton… The difference in response was most evident in correspondence to sheriffs’ offices, with ‘black-sounding’ names seven per cent less likely to receive a response than ‘white-sounding’ names.

‘Black’-sounding name conjures a larger, more dangerous person, University of California, October 2015:

In a study exploring racial bias and how people use their mind’s-eye image of an imagined person’s size to represent someone as either threatening or high-status, UCLA researchers found that people envisioned men with stereotypically black names as bigger and more violent.

A Good Woman (or Minority) Chemist Is Apparently Hard to Find, Undark, March 2016:

It would be easy to attribute this to a diversity problem within the chemical sciences writ large. In the United States at least, chemists are still disproportionately white and male. But the awardees don’t reflect the actual demographics of the American Chemical Society, where just under a third of its members are women, and 20 percent identify as non-white.

Poor white kids are less likely to go to prison than rich black kids, The Washington Post, March 2016:

About 10 percent of affluent black youths in 1985 would eventually go to prison. Only the very wealthiest black youth — those whose household wealth in 1985 exceeded $69,000 in 2012 dollars — had a better chance of avoiding prison than the poorest white youth.

‘Resume whitening’ doubles callbacks for minority job candidates, study finds, The Guardian, March 2016:

Minority job applicants who resort to “resume whitening” – a practice in which candidates alter any information on their resume that indicates their ethnicity – are more than twice as likely to receive a callback than those who don’t, a new study has found.

Women and Minorities Are Penalized for Promoting Diversity, Harvard Business Review, March 2016:

Participants rated nonwhite managers and female managers as less effective when they hired a nonwhite or female job candidate instead of a white male candidate. Similar to our first study, it didn’t matter whether white male managers chose to hire a white male, white female, nonwhite male, or nonwhite female — there was no difference in how participants rated their competence and performance. Basically, all managers were judged harshly if they hired someone who looked like them, unless they were a white male.

The disturbing reason some African American patients may be undertreated for pain, The Washington Post, April 2016:

A 2000 study out of Emory University found that at a hospital emergency department in Atlanta, 74 percent of white patients with bone fractures received painkillers compared with 50 percent of black patients. Similarly, a paper last year found that black children with appendicitis were less likely to receive pain medication than their white counterparts. And a 2007 study found that physicians were more likely to underestimate the pain of black patients compared with other patients.

Teachers’ implicit bias against black students starts in preschool, study finds, The Guardian, October 2016:

[Research] demonstrates that black boys are viewed as four and five years older than they are. Research demonstrates that racial disparities in school discipline exist in the most subjective of categories – “willful defiance”, “insubordination”, “disrespect”. Those racial disparities decrease significantly for the most objective of categories: possession of alcohol on campus, possession of drugs with intent to distribute, possession of a loaded weapon.

Asian Last Names Lead To Fewer Job Interviews, Still, NPR, February 2017:

The study found that job applicants in Canada with Asian names — names of Indian, Pakistani or Chinese origin — were 28 percent less likely to get called for an interview compared to applicants with Anglo names, even when all the qualifications were the same.

Study: anti-black hiring discrimination is as prevalent today as it was in 1989, Vox, September 2017:

In total, the researchers produced 24 studies with 30 estimates of discrimination for black and Latino Americans, collectively representing more than 54,000 applications submitted for more than 25,000 positions.

They concluded that, on average, “white applicants receive 36% more callbacks than equally qualified African Americans” while “[w]hite applicants receive on average 24% more callbacks than Latinos.”

Pinpointing Racial Discrimination by Government Officials, The New York Times, October 2017:

The researchers sent roughly 20,000 emails to local government employees in nearly every county. The emails posed commonplace questions, like “Could you please tell me what your opening hours are?”

…But emails with black-sounding names were 13 percent more likely to go unanswered than those with white-sounding names. This difference, which appeared in all regions of the country, was large enough that it was statistically unlikely to have been a matter of mere chance.

Women of Color in Academe Make 67 Cents for Every Dollar Paid to White Men, The Chronicle, June 2018:

Specifically, the brief found that women of color are underrepresented in academe, compared with their representation in the U.S. population at large — especially in more lucrative faculty, professional, and administrative roles, versus lower-paying staff positions. And in three out of four job types (professional, staff, and faculty) women of color are paid less than white men, men of color, and white women.

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