Main Page - Latest News

Science Now Mag: Avoiding Race is Counter-Productive.


CofCC.org News Team

Left-wingers scream, yell, and foam at the mouth over the CofCC website. They e-mail us constantly telling us we are wrong to talk about race.

Now a social psychologist at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts says that studies show it is counter productive not to bring up race.

From Science Now Magazine…

After Barack Obama’s landmark speech on race on 18 March, it was hard to tell what got more media attention: What the Democratic presidential candidate said or that he had said it at all. Regardless, many pundits agreed that as an African-American, Obama could discuss race in ways few white people would dare. That’s because most white Americans today have learned not to talk about race for fear of seeming racist, says Samuel Sommers, a social psychologist at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Two new studies back up this idea, and the research shows that deliberately avoiding race when it’s clearly relevant may impair decision-making skills.

Humans are hard-wired to notice race. The average person registers the race of another human face in less than 100 milliseconds, according to past studies. This instantaneous perception clashes sharply with the American cultural taboo against using race to identify someone. Watch people at a party trying to describe another person, says Michael Norton, a marketing researcher at Harvard Business School. “They’ll launch into these long explanations until someone in the group might eventually say, ‘Oh, you mean the Asian guy?'”

To measure the impact of such verbal gymnastics on cognition, Norton, Sommers, and colleagues employed a modified version of the children’s game “Guess Who?” Cards depicting people of different genders and races are laid face-up on a table, and one player mentally selects a card. The second player has to figure out as quickly as possible which card the first player picked using as few yes-or-no questions as possible, such as “Is your person blonde?”

Past studies have suggested that children internalize social taboos about discussing race at about age 10. The researchers compared the performances of 51 children that were 8 to 9 years old with a similarly sized group of 10- to 11-year-olds. Both groups were equally composed of girls and boys, and the participants were predominantly white. In this game, asking about race was perfectly legitimate, because it could help the child pick the target card faster, Sommers says. Whereas almost 77% of the younger children asked about race, only 37% of the older children did. Consequently, the younger group guessed the target card after an average of 7.4 questions, but the older students averaged 8.3 questions, the team reports online this week in Developmental Psychology.