Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Race and Priming effects in the head

In the book BLINK by Malcolm Gladwell, the idea of priming is described. To illustrate it, he describes an experiment. Refer to "Stereotype Threat and intellectual Test Performance of African Americans" in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Volume 69, No. 5, (1995): pages 797-811.

African-Americans are tested with GRE questions. If they are asked to identify their race in a pretest questionnare, the number of correct answers dropped by 50%. The explanation is that the negative stereotypes about being African American is enough to lower the test scores.

It makes you think what all these tests mean. In my real world of the photo store, I don't ask my employees what SAT or GRE score they have. None of that matters. Can they follow directions? Can they not blow up the lab?

That is all that matters.

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