False Negatives

Kevin Lewis

March 26, 2020

Disentangling stereotypes from social reality: Astrological stereotypes and discrimination in China
Jackson Lu et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Because stereotypes and social reality are mutually reinforcing, it is often unclear whether a given stereotype has emerged from preexisting social reality, or has shaped social reality over time to resemble the stereotype (e.g., via discrimination). To address this chicken-or-egg problem, we advance an integrative model that captures not only endogenous stereotype formation from social reality, but also exogenous stereotype formation without social reality. When arbitrary social categories are introduced, the cultural meanings of category cues (e.g., semantic category names) can be exogenously projected as stereotypes onto those social categories. To illustrate exogenous stereotype formation, we examined a novel form of stereotyping and discrimination in China based on astrological signs, which were introduced into China from the West. Studies 1a, 1b, and 2 revealed that astrological stereotypes are salient in China (but not in the United States). These stereotypes were likely produced exogenously because of how the signs were translated into Chinese. In particular, Virgos are stereotyped as having disagreeable personalities, likely because of Virgo’s Chinese translation as “virgin” (Study 3). This translation-based stereotype led Chinese individuals to discriminate against Virgos in romantic dating (Study 4) and in simulated job recruitment (Studies 5 and 6). Studies 7 and 8 confirmed that astrological stereotypes are inaccurate and astrological discrimination is irrational: Astrological sign predicted neither personality (N = 173,709) nor job performance (N = 32,878). Overall, our research disentangles stereotypes from social reality by providing a real-world demonstration that stereotypes can form without preexisting social reality, yet still produce discrimination that can then shape social reality.

Contraction as a Response to Group Threat: Demographic Decline and Whites’ Classification of People Who Are Ambiguously White
Maria Abascal
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

How do members of dominant groups, like White people in the United States, react when their privileged social status is threatened, for example, by the prospect of numeric decline? Prior studies identify two sets of reactions: (1) White people identify more strongly with ingroup members, and (2) they withhold material and symbolic resources from outgroup members. This study explores another possibility: White people may alter the boundary around Whiteness by redefining the criteria for membership. I use an original survey experiment to examine how demographic threat affects how White people in the United States classify people who are ambiguously White, and specifically people who are ambiguously White or Latino. The results reveal that White people are less — not more — likely to classify people who are ambiguously White or Latino as “White” under threat. The results contribute to a growing literature on the racial classification of multiracial and racially ambiguous people that has previously ignored ambiguity around the Latino category. They also speak to an active debate about demographic projections and the classification decisions on which they rest.

Collective Victimhood and Social Prejudice: A Post‐Holocaust Theory of Anti‐Semitism
Georgios Antoniou, Elias Dinas & Spyros Kosmidis
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Anti‐Semitism represents one of the most penetrating forms of prejudice, yet social research has failed to address the causal underpinnings of the phenomenon. To this end, we empirically test the notion that anti‐Semitism builds on the legacy of the Holocaust. Standing as the benchmark for collective suffering, the Holocaust creates competition over recognition of the status of the victim. Upward comparisons between victimized ingroups with other victimized outgroups trigger social prejudice. Victimhood, thus, creates an antagonistic view of the Jews that, in turn, fuels anti‐Semitic prejudice. We test this theory using data from Greece — the European nation with the highest proportion of anti‐Semites — leveraging two survey experiments and a natural experiment. Our results confirm our theoretical expectations, showing that perceived victimhood fuels anti‐Semitism. The findings of our research carry important implications for dealing with anti‐Semitism and for combating various forms of outgroup prejudice.

Racial disparities in automated speech recognition
Allison Koenecke et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Automated speech recognition (ASR) systems, which use sophisticated machine-learning algorithms to convert spoken language to text, have become increasingly widespread, powering popular virtual assistants, facilitating automated closed captioning, and enabling digital dictation platforms for health care. Over the last several years, the quality of these systems has dramatically improved, due both to advances in deep learning and to the collection of large-scale datasets used to train the systems. There is concern, however, that these tools do not work equally well for all subgroups of the population. Here, we examine the ability of five state-of-the-art ASR systems — developed by Amazon, Apple, Google, IBM, and Microsoft — to transcribe structured interviews conducted with 42 white speakers and 73 black speakers. In total, this corpus spans five US cities and consists of 19.8 h of audio matched on the age and gender of the speaker. We found that all five ASR systems exhibited substantial racial disparities, with an average word error rate (WER) of 0.35 for black speakers compared with 0.19 for white speakers. We trace these disparities to the underlying acoustic models used by the ASR systems as the race gap was equally large on a subset of identical phrases spoken by black and white individuals in our corpus. We conclude by proposing strategies — such as using more diverse training datasets that include African American Vernacular English — to reduce these performance differences and ensure speech recognition technology is inclusive.

Anti-Bullying Laws and Suicidal Behaviors among Teenagers
Daniel Rees, Joseph Sabia & Gokhan Kumpas
NBER Working Paper, February 2020

The CDC reports that the association between bullying and suicides among teenagers has generated “concern, even panic,” but polices aimed at combatting bullying have received little attention from researchers. Using a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, we find that state-level anti-bullying laws (ABLs) reduce bullying victimization, depression and suicidal ideation, with the largest estimated effects for female teenagers and teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning. In addition, ABLs are associated with a 13-16 percent reduction in the suicide rate of female 14- through 18-year-olds. Event-study analyses and falsification tests provide evidence that these estimates can be interpreted causally.

Inaccurate group meta-perceptions drive negative out-group attributions in competitive contexts
Jeffrey Lees & Mina Cikara
Nature Human Behaviour, March 2020, Pages 279–286

Across seven experiments and one survey (n = 4,282), people consistently overestimated out-group negativity towards the collective behaviour of their in-group. This negativity bias in group meta-perception was present across multiple competitive (but not cooperative) intergroup contexts and appears to be yoked to group psychology more generally; we observed negativity bias for estimation of out-group, anonymized-group and even fellow in-group members’ perceptions. Importantly, in the context of US politics, greater inaccuracy was associated with increased belief that the out-group is motivated by purposeful obstructionism. However, an intervention that informed participants of the inaccuracy of their beliefs reduced negative out-group attributions, and was more effective for those whose group meta-perceptions were more inaccurate. In sum, we highlight a pernicious bias in social judgements of how we believe ‘they’ see ‘our’ behaviour, demonstrate how such inaccurate beliefs can exacerbate intergroup conflict and provide an avenue for reducing the negative effects of inaccuracy.

Can Psychological Interventions Improve Intergroup Attitudes Post Terror Attacks?
Jasper Van Assche et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

This research concurrently investigated the effectiveness of three established bias-reducing interventions (i.e., positive affirmation, secure attachment, and cognitive dissonance) in the wake of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks. Using frequentist and Bayesian analyses, Study 1 (N = 1,676), launched within days of the attacks, found that compared to a control condition, the interventions did not significantly improve intergroup attitudes. Instead, the data showed strong support of the null hypotheses that there were no intervention effects. Proximity to the attacks did not moderate the effect. Study 2 (N = 285) reexamined the effects of the three interventions 2.5 years after the attacks, generally replicating the pattern of findings in Study 1. Together, this research highlights the challenge of intergroup bias reduction following terror attacks. We conclude by discussing several recommendations for how psychological interventions could play a more impactful role in contexts of heightened conflict.

Cumulative consequences of stigma: Possessing multiple concealable stigmatized identities is associated with worse quality of life
Mora Reinka et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Large health disparities exist between stigmatized and nonstigmatized groups. In addition to experiencing and anticipating greater discrimination, members of stigmatized groups also tend to demonstrate greater ruminative tendencies in response, which may lead to these poor health outcomes. Even among stigmatized groups, differences in the visibility of stigma lead to different mechanisms through which stigma takes its toll. Previous work has primarily focused on the impact of belonging to a single marginalized group; however, people often belong to multiple marginalized groups, and this likely affects both their health outcomes and their anticipation of stigma. In the current study, we focused on individuals with concealable stigmatized identities (CSIs) — socially stigmatized identities that are not immediately apparent to others — and created a measure of concealable marginalization that captures multiple group memberships. We predicted that those possessing a greater number of CSIs would anticipate more stigma from others, and, in turn, ruminate more about the stigma, which would negatively impact the health. Surveying N = 288 adults with CSIs, we found that possessing a greater number of marginalized concealable identities predicted worse self‐reported physical quality of life. These relationships were partially mediated by greater anticipated stigma and brooding rumination in regard to their CSI. This work illuminates a more complete picture of how living with CSIs can take its toll on health.

Unpacking the Mascot Debate: Native American Identification Predicts Opposition to Native Mascots
Stephanie Fryberg et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

While major organizations representing Native Americans (e.g., National Congress of American Indians) contend that Native mascots are stereotypical and dehumanizing, sports teams with Native mascots cite polls claiming their mascots are not offensive to Native people. We conducted a large-scale, empirical study to provide a valid and generalizable understanding of Native Americans’ (N = 1,021) attitudes toward Native mascots. Building on the identity centrality literature, we examined how multiple aspects of Native identification uniquely shaped attitudes toward mascots. While Native Americans in our sample generally opposed Native mascots, especially the Redskins, attitudes varied according to demographic characteristics (e.g., age, political orientation, education) and the strength of participants’ racial–ethnic identification. Specifically, stronger Native identification (behavioral engagement and identity centrality) predicted greater opposition. Results highlight the importance of considering the unique and multifaceted aspects of identity, particularly when seeking to understand Native people’s attitudes and experiences.

Who are GamerGate? A descriptive study of individuals involved in the GamerGate controversy
Christopher Ferguson & Brad Glasgow
Psychology of Popular Media, forthcoming

The GamerGate controversy emerged in 2014, ostensibly regarding concerns over journalistic integrity in the video games industry. However, it quickly morphed into discussions of sexism in gaming following several high-profile reports of harassment against women journalists and game designers. This has resulted in GamerGate being directly tied to sexism in games. Thus, it is common to hear that individuals involved in GamerGate are largely conservative White men motivated primarily by sexism and misogyny. However, few empirical studies have examined the composition of individuals who identify with GamerGate. The current analysis examined the demographic characteristics and social attitudes of 725 individuals who identified as members of GamerGate. Although individuals fitting the constellation of Caucasian, male, heterosexual, and non-Hispanic were more common than those in other categories, only 303 (41.8%) of the sample identified as all of these categories, suggesting many members of GamerGate do not fit the stereotype of a heterosexual White man. Further, analysis of study participant attitudes suggest they tend to hold more liberal attitudes than the general population. It is concluded that although it remains valuable to highlight specific incidents of harassment of women in gaming, caution is advised in using the GamerGate identity as synonymous with such behavior.

Economic status cues from clothes affect perceived competence from faces
DongWon Oh, Eldar Shafir & Alexander Todorov
Nature Human Behaviour, March 2020, Pages 287–293

Impressions of competence from faces predict important real-world outcomes, including electoral success and chief executive officer selection. Presumed competence is associated with social status. Here we show that subtle economic status cues in clothes affect perceived competence from faces. In nine studies, people rated the competence of faces presented in frontal headshots. Faces were shown with different upper-body clothing rated by independent judges as looking ‘richer’ or ‘poorer’, although not notably perceived as such when explicitly described. The same face when seen with ‘richer’ clothes was judged significantly more competent than with ‘poorer’ clothes. The effect persisted even when perceivers were exposed to the stimuli briefly (129 ms), warned that clothing cues are non-informative and instructed to ignore the clothes (in one study, with considerable incentives). These findings demonstrate the uncontrollable effect of economic status cues on person perception. They add yet another hurdle to the challenges faced by low-status individuals.

The higher price of whiter skin: An analysis of escort services
Raymundo Campos-Vazquez
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

How much are people willing to pay extra for sexual services with a white woman instead of one with darker skin? Skin colour assessed from photographs of women on escort websites in Mexico was compared with price information to answer this question. Women with darker skin were found to be underrepresented, consistent with self-selection into other occupations with an expectation of higher wages. Lighter-skinned escorts also charge more than darker women. Controlling for estimated age and physical measures like weight, hair colour, and body type, a one standard deviation increase in darkness reduces an escort’s price by approximately 10 percent.

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