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Concept: Racism


This study investigates change over time in the level of hiring discrimination in US labor markets. We perform a meta-analysis of every available field experiment of hiring discrimination against African Americans or Latinos (n = 28). Together, these studies represent 55,842 applications submitted for 26,326 positions. We focus on trends since 1989 (n = 24 studies), when field experiments became more common and improved methodologically. Since 1989, whites receive on average 36% more callbacks than African Americans, and 24% more callbacks than Latinos. We observe no change in the level of hiring discrimination against African Americans over the past 25 years, although we find modest evidence of a decline in discrimination against Latinos. Accounting for applicant education, applicant gender, study method, occupational groups, and local labor market conditions does little to alter this result. Contrary to claims of declining discrimination in American society, our estimates suggest that levels of discrimination remain largely unchanged, at least at the point of hire.

Concepts: Experimental design, Evaluation methods, Experiment, Employment, Race, African American, Racism, Racial segregation


The present work provides evidence that people assume a priori that Blacks feel less pain than do Whites. It also demonstrates that this bias is rooted in perceptions of status and the privilege (or hardship) status confers, not race per se. Archival data from the National Football League injury reports reveal that, relative to injured White players, injured Black players are deemed more likely to play in a subsequent game, possibly because people assume they feel less pain. Experiments 1-4 show that White and Black Americans-including registered nurses and nursing students-assume that Black people feel less pain than do White people. Finally, Experiments 5 and 6 provide evidence that this bias is rooted in perceptions of status, not race per se. Taken together, these data have important implications for understanding race-related biases and healthcare disparities.

Concepts: Black people, United Kingdom, Race, White American, White people, Racism, National Football League


The present research documents the widespread misperception of race-based economic equality in the United States. Across four studies (n = 1,377) sampling White and Black Americans from the top and bottom of the national income distribution, participants overestimated progress toward Black-White economic equality, largely driven by estimates of greater current equality than actually exists according to national statistics. Overestimates of current levels of racial economic equality, on average, outstripped reality by roughly 25% and were predicted by greater belief in a just world and social network racial diversity (among Black participants). Whereas high-income White respondents tended to overestimate racial economic equality in the past, Black respondents, on average, underestimated the degree of past racial economic equality. Two follow-up experiments further revealed that making societal racial discrimination salient increased the accuracy of Whites' estimates of Black-White economic equality, whereas encouraging Whites to anchor their estimates on their own circumstances increased their tendency to overestimate current racial economic equality. Overall, these findings suggest a profound misperception of and unfounded optimism regarding societal race-based economic equality-a misperception that is likely to have any number of important policy implications.

Concepts: United States, Black people, Sociology, Economics, Race, White American, White people, Racism


Long-standing racial differences in US life expectancy suggest that black Americans would be exposed to significantly more family member deaths than white Americans from childhood through adulthood, which, given the health risks posed by grief and bereavement, would add to the disadvantages that they face. We analyze nationally representative US data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (n = 7,617) and the Health and Retirement Study (n = 34,757) to estimate racial differences in exposure to the death of family members at different ages, beginning in childhood. Results indicate that blacks are significantly more likely than whites to have experienced the death of a mother, a father, and a sibling from childhood through midlife. From young adulthood through later life, blacks are also more likely than whites to have experienced the death of a child and of a spouse. These results reveal an underappreciated layer of racial inequality in the United States, one that could contribute to the intergenerational transmission of health disadvantage. By calling attention to this heightened vulnerability of black Americans, our findings underscore the need to address the potential impact of more frequent and earlier exposure to family member deaths in the process of cumulative disadvantage.

Concepts: United States, Black people, Race, White American, White people, African American, Racism, European American


A large body of social science research is devoted to understanding the causes and correlates of discrimination. Comparatively less effort has been aimed at providing a general prevalence estimate of discrimination using a nationally representative sample. The current study is intended to offer such an estimate using a large sample of American respondents (N = 14,793) while also exploring perceptions regarding why respondents felt they were discriminated against. The results provide a broad estimate of self-reported discrimination experiences-an event that was only reported by about one-quarter of all sample members-across racial and ethnic categories.

Concepts: United States, Anthropology, Race, Ethnic group, Racism, Racial segregation, Nation, Nationalism


Nearly 9 million Americans live in extreme-poverty neighborhoods, places that also tend to be racially segregated and dangerous. Yet, the effects on the well-being of residents of moving out of such communities into less distressed areas remain uncertain. Using data from Moving to Opportunity, a unique randomized housing mobility experiment, we found that moving from a high-poverty to lower-poverty neighborhood leads to long-term (10- to 15-year) improvements in adult physical and mental health and subjective well-being, despite not affecting economic self-sufficiency. A 1-standard deviation decline in neighborhood poverty (13 percentage points) increases subjective well-being by an amount equal to the gap in subjective well-being between people whose annual incomes differ by $13,000–a large amount given that the average control group income is $20,000. Subjective well-being is more strongly affected by changes in neighborhood economic disadvantage than racial segregation, which is important because racial segregation has been declining since 1970, but income segregation has been increasing.

Concepts: Effect, Affect, African American, Sustainability, Racism, Household income in the United States, Racial segregation, White supremacy


Black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain relative to white Americans. We examine whether this racial bias is related to false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites (e.g., “black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s skin”). Study 1 documented these beliefs among white laypersons and revealed that participants who more strongly endorsed false beliefs about biological differences reported lower pain ratings for a black (vs. white) target. Study 2 extended these findings to the medical context and found that half of a sample of white medical students and residents endorsed these beliefs. Moreover, participants who endorsed these beliefs rated the black (vs. white) patient’s pain as lower and made less accurate treatment recommendations. Participants who did not endorse these beliefs rated the black (vs. white) patient’s pain as higher, but showed no bias in treatment recommendations. These findings suggest that individuals with at least some medical training hold and may use false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites to inform medical judgments, which may contribute to racial disparities in pain assessment and treatment.

Concepts: Black people, South Africa, Race, White American, White people, African American, Racism


When the economy declines, racial minorities are hit the hardest. Although existing explanations for this effect focus on institutional causes, recent psychological findings suggest that scarcity may also alter perceptions of race in ways that exacerbate discrimination. We tested the hypothesis that economic resource scarcity causes decision makers to perceive African Americans as “Blacker” and that this visual distortion elicits disparities in the allocation of resources. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that scarcity altered perceptions of race, lowering subjects' psychophysical threshold for seeing a mixed-race face as “Black” as opposed to “White.” In studies 3 and 4, scarcity led subjects to visualize African American faces as darker and more “stereotypically Black,” compared with a control condition. When presented to na├»ve subjects, face representations produced under scarcity elicited smaller allocations than control-condition representations. Together, these findings introduce a novel perceptual account for the proliferation of racial disparities under economic scarcity.

Concepts: United States, Black people, Perception, Race, African American, Scarcity, Racism, Multiracial


Neuroimaging research in adults has consistently found that differential perception of race is associated with increased amygdala activity. We hypothesized that such neural biases unlikely reflect innate processes but instead emerge over development. In the current study, we used fMRI to examine the neurodevelopmental trajectory of the amygdala in response to race across childhood and adolescence ranging from 4 to 16 years. Thirty-two youths viewed African American and European American faces during a functional brain scan. Results suggest that differential amygdala response to African American faces does not emerge until adolescence, reflecting the increasing salience of race across development. In addition, greater peer diversity was associated with attenuated amygdala response to African American faces, suggesting that intergroup racial contact may reduce the salience of race.

Concepts: Neuroimaging, Black people, Neuroscience, Race, White American, Racism, European American, English American


After nearly a decade of genome-wide association studies, no assessment has yet been made of their contribution toward an explanation of the most prominent racial health disparities observed at the population level. We examined populations of African and European ancestry and focused on cardiovascular diseases, which are collectively the largest contributor to the racial mortality gap. We conducted a systematic search for review articles and meta-analyses published in 2007-2013 in which genetic data from both populations were available. We identified 68 articles relevant to this question; however, few reported significant associations in both racial groups, with just 3 variants meeting study-specific significance criteria. For most outcomes, there were too few estimates for quantitative summarization, but when summarization was possible, racial group did not contribute to heterogeneity. Most associations reported from genome-wide searches were small, difficult to replicate, and in no consistent direction that favored one racial group or another. Although the substantial investment in this technology might have produced clinical advances, it has thus far made little or no contribution to our understanding of population-level racial health disparities in cardiovascular disease.

Concepts: Medicine, Genetics, Health disparities, Demography, Cardiovascular disease, Race, Racism, European American