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Americans have become less biased — in regard to race, disability, and sexuality — since 2004
The study suggest implicit biases can change significantly over a relatively short timeframe.
- The study examined the results of more than 4 million tests designed to measure implicit and explicit biases.
- The tests measured attitudes toward groups defined by age, disability, body weight, race, skin tone, and sexuality.
- All explicit biases decreased during the study's timeframe, while several categories of implicit bias diminished.
In an era when identity is brought to the forefront of nearly every cultural conversation, a new study highlights a somewhat counterintuitive trend: Since 2004, Americans seem to have become less biased—both implicitly and explicitly—toward certain social groups.
The study, published on January 3 in the journal Psychological Science, examined the results of 4.4 million online tests that measured explicit and implicit biases toward groups defined by age, disability, body weight, race, skin tone, and sexuality. Taken by people living in the U.S. from 2004 to 2016, the results showed that explicit (self-reported) biases in all categories decreased during the study's timeframe. However, not all biases dropped equally.
"The rates of explicit attitude change ranged from a rapid 49% decrease in explicit bias towards gay and lesbian individuals, to a relatively slower 15% decrease in explicit bias towards overweight individuals," Tessa E. S. Charlesworth of Harvard University, the first author on the study, told the Association for Psychological Science.
But more surprising was the finding that Americans' implicit (or automatic) biases also seemed to drop significantly.
"Implicit sexual orientation, race, and skin-tone attitudes have all decreased in prejudice over the past decade, with the rates of change ranging from a rapid 33% decrease in implicit bias towards gay and lesbian individuals to a relatively slower 15% decrease in implicit bias towards dark-skinned individuals," Charlesworth said.
All groups of Americans generally reported less implicit bias toward groups defined by sexuality, while millennials showed the greatest decreases in implicit biases toward groups defined by race and skin tone. However, some biases don't appear to be diminishing. Implicit attitudes toward groups based on age and disability remained stable over the study's timeframe, while negative attitudes toward overweight people actually increased.
To measure implicit bias, the researchers used variations of the Implicit Association Test (IAT), a word-based test that asks respondents to quickly match certain groups to descriptors, and then measures how long it took for respondents to form those associations. For example, an IAT might ask a respondent to pair "male" or "female" with the attribute "logical." The idea is that quicker associations represent stronger implicit biases.
Implicit biases can change
The results are promising because they show that our implicit biases can change significantly over the course of a decade, the researchers said.
"We provide the first report of long-term change in both implicit and explicit attitudes – measured from the same individual – towards multiple social groups," Charlesworth said. "This research is important because it shows that, contrary to previous assumptions that implicit attitudes were stable features of the mind or society, implicit attitudes appear, in fact, to be capable of long-term durable change."
Still, it's worth noting that the study only included answers provided from 2004 to 2016, and some polling data shows that many Americans report feeling that racism or race relations have gotten worse in recent years. For instance:
- In February 2018, the Associated Press/NORC Center poll asked black Americans if race relations in the U.S. are better, worse or about the same as in February 2017. About 7 percent said better, 65 percent said worse, and 27 percent said about the same.
- A 2017 Pew Research Center survey showed that, compared to 2015, the share of Americans who said racism was a "big problem in our society" rose by 8 percent—an increased reported almost entirely by Democrats.
- An NBC poll from 2018 showed that 64 percent of Americans felt that racism remains a "major problem in our society."
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
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