In this episode, Chris Martin (@Chrismartin76) interviews Lee Jussim (@PsychRabble), Professor of Social Psychology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He conducts research on stereotypes and stereotype accuracy, and blogs at Rabble Rouser.

0:00 Lee’s work on the myth of stereotype inaccuracy

7:11 Blatant biases in conventional social research

10:26 What’s inside Lee’s upcoming books about politics & social psychology?

14:57 Is stereotype accuracy finally getting the coverage it needs?

23:20 People mostly discard stereotypes when they have individuating information

26:57 Stereotypes of liberals and conservatives—accuracy, inaccuracy, and real-world problems

33:00 It’s the prejudice, not the stereotyping

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You can learn more Lee Jussim at his website.

Here’s a recent talk by Lee: Science Going Bad and How to Improve It.

Books mentioned during the interview:

Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy by Lee Jussim:

The Politics of Social Psychology, edited by Jarret T. Crawford and Lee Jussim

Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination, 2nd edition, edited by Todd D. Nelson:

Selected Quotes

I would like to think of my field of social psychology as a scientific field. I believe in science. I am enthusiastic about it. And so I am acutely pained when the field that I so strongly identify with, and want to advance, has basic failures in conduct as a normal science. And I discovered these failures when I examined the claims about stereotype inaccuracy.

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The idea of confirmation bias is people they selectively seek out information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs, and they’re more critical of information that disconfirms their beliefs. And as far as I can tell those patterns really do pervade the social sciences. And one way that manifests is—compare stereotype accuracy or inaccuracy to almost any area! If people are going to make any claim that say intrinsic motivation increases academic achievement, they’re going to have data to support the claim. They’re either going to have their own data or cite some famous review article or meta-analysis. But if they want to claim that stereotypes are inaccurate, they don’t need any data—that’s fine! You can just do that!!!

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If people on the extreme left are over-represented—and there is good evidence for that in academia, especially in the social sciences and humanities—and if such people are most likely to unjustifiable exaggerate the views of their ideological opponents, you’re going to have academia filled with people who despise conservatives because they truly see them as fascists and Nazis. And so why is that a problem? It’s a problem intellectually for all sorts of reasons. It feeds back into the confirmation bias problem. To the extent that the social sciences address political issues and simply stigmatize people who disagree with their views then it’s going to be very difficult to have an honest conversation about zillions of politicized issues.