Caution Can Lead to Racism

| 3/10/2009 1:51:36 PM

Psychologists have found that people who are too cautious or deliberate can be perceived as racist, according to the We’re Only Human blog of the Association for Psychological Sciences. For the experiment, researchers from Tufts University tried to sap white volunteers of the cognitive abilities needed for self-discipline through a series of mental exercises. Then, the participants sat down to talk about race with black men who served as judges. According to the blog:

Those who were mentally depleted—that is, those lacking discipline and self-control—found talking about race with a black man much more enjoyable than did those with their self-control intact. That’s presumably because they weren’t working so hard at monitoring and curbing what they said. What’s more, independent black observers found that the powerless volunteers were much more direct and authentic in conversation. And perhaps most striking, blacks saw the less inhibited whites as less prejudiced against blacks. In other words, relinquishing power over oneself appears to thwart over-thinking and “liberate” people for more authentic relationships.

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