Friday, September 30, 2016

That New Study In The News

The new study out of Yale showing bias in preschool teachers, widely reported at showing evidence of racism among both the white and black teachers. Hmm.

The children were actors.
The teachers were told to look for challenging behaviors.
There were no actual challenging behaviors. (See “actors,” above.)
The teachers kept their eye on black boys 42% of the time, white boys 34% of the time, white girls 14%, black girls 10%. So black/white 52/48, male/female 76/24.
The bias was not exactly the same among white and black teachers or male and female teachers, but there were strong similarities.  That is, the black teachers also kept a closer eye on the black boys, and everyone kept much more attention on males rather than females.

I submit that this is not a measurement of anything, and it is embarrassing to think that one of the world’s great universities has people who think this was not only potentially useful, but some real result when it was finished.  It is further embarrassing  that this became a big story in the major news outlets – Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, NPR – as a measure of “implicit bias,” with the focus on racism, not sexism.  I submit that if actor-studies with no actual challenging behaviors measure anything, they’re going to differentiate between people who have actually worked with preschool children versus those who think they know better.

I'll bet it's replicable, which is no small thing in psychology these days as many cherished notions are going up in flames. But it's still useless.


james said...

I didn't read the study, but --- preschool actors?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I'm guessing not stage-actors, but more like kids that their moms had brought in who were screened to not be problem children. They were told "go play, we're going to be filming you, behave yourselves."