Are You Inherently Racist? New Study Seems to Say Yes

Mar 15 2017 - 12:21pm

The world has been moving toward better human rights and equality for all. But there may be a bigger barrier to racial equality than history. It turns out your biology might be inherently racist!

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perception bias, racism

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a new study that revealed you might be inherently racist towards black people. They asked almost one thousand people to compare two photos, one of a black man and one of a white man of equal height and weight.

The sad part is, most people's brains perceived the black man to be bigger, mightier, and more threatening than the white man. It's actually a common psychological phenomenon called perception bias.

But it's deeper than just race. Even black participants said the black men looked tougher and bigger, but they didn't feel threatened. Most participants shockingly stated that police would be justified to use force against the black man and not the white man, even if it meant the black man would be harmed.

And it's not exclusive to black men either. The results apply to any person who is dark-skinned, regardless of race.

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The good news is, experts think that the perception bias can be totally removed globally. They think awareness is the key. Police officers can take special precautions when dealing with black men to intentionally use less aggressive efforts than what they feel the need. Black suspects can be extra cautious knowing that police are more likely to use force because of the bias.

Here are some other ways you can help eliminate your bias:

Make more multicultural friends. If you usually hang out with people of your own ethnicity or race, you'll have a higher bias. Make friends outside of your race to enrich your brain with experiences with other races. In a rough analogy, it's like learning how to eat sushi – if you've never tried it, you may feel scared, threatened, and cautious when you see a picture of raw fish in rice. But if you start eating sushi, your brain will see it as normal and even delectable. The same goes for people of other races – if you're not used to them, you'll be more wary of them.

Volunteer. If you can't find people of other races who you jive with, you can simply volunteer at your local soup kitchen or hospital. Volunteering boosts your exposure to more people, in general, and you'll most likely come into more contact with other races. These experiences also help to lower your brain's bias as it gets more used to connecting with other races.

It seems kind of hard when your brain comes with a racial bias, despite your best efforts to treat everyone equal. Fear not, one day this racial perception bias will be eliminated. For now, you can try these two tips to lower your own personal perception bias.

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