The story of racial prejudice in the U.S. over the past several decades is a tale of good and bad news. On the mostly positive side, surveys of the American public suggest that overt prejudice—biases to which people are willing to admit—has been on the steady decline (although some data suggest an uptick following the presidential election of Barack Obama). On the negative side, prejudice, even in its ugliest forms, is far from eradicated. In the weeks preceding my writing of this column racial slurs surfaced on the gates of the home of basketball superstar LeBron James, and nooses were found hanging at museums in our nation’s capital.
What’s more, such overt prejudice might only be the tip of a massive iceberg. A number of prominent scholars have maintained that a good deal of racial bias has merely “gone underground,” assuming insidious forms such as implicit prejudice. Although the science of implicit prejudice is controversial, few researchers dispute that bigotry is at times manifested in subtle ways.
In an article published earlier this year in the Association for Psychological Science journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, I canvassed the extant literature to address these questions. In general, I found that the sizable program of research dedicated to microaggressions raises far more questions than answers, and is far too preliminary to justify real-world applications, including training programs.
Read the whole story: Scientific American