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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

PSU Study: Whites still think Blacks are apes

In addition to commenting on policy issues, I also like to comment on some of very weird, esoteric studies conducted by academic researchers. The most recent is this study released by Penn State finding a subconscious connection (mostly among college-age whites) between Blacks and apes that "may reinforce subtle bias."

Consider this test:

In the fifth study, the researchers subliminally primed 115 White men with words associated with either apes (such as "monkey," "chimp," "gorilla") or big cats (such as "lion," "tiger," "cheetah"). Apes and big cats are associated with violence and Africa.

The subjects then watched a two-minute video clip, depicting several police officers violently beating a man of undetermined race. A photo of either a White or a Black man was shown at the beginning of the clip to indicate who was being beaten, with a description conveying that, although described by his family as "a loving husband and father," the suspect had a serious criminal record and may have been high on drugs at the time of his arrest.

The students were then asked to rate how justified the beating was. Participants who believed the suspect was White were no more likely to condone the beating when they were primed with either ape or big cat words. But those who thought the suspect was Black were more likely to justify the beating if they had been primed with ape words than with big cat words.
I honestly don't know what the implications of this study are, unless I were a defense attorney defending a police beating of a Black man, in which case I would open with "I will prove ... gorilla, baboon, orangutan, roll the video."

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