A Different Perspective

March 18, 2013

Business, Education, Opinion

Periodically BeeNetwork News comes across a different perspective we believe is of value to our readers.  The topic may range from politics to business practices or industry innovations and popular trends.  The views and opinions expressed are strictly those of the writer and not directly or indirectly associated with BeeNetwork, BeeNetwork News.Com its affiliates or sponsors.    NOTE:  Some of the words and video content in ADP articles may be to explicit and offensive to some adults and children.  Please be advised!

Many people say that the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 marked the beginning of a post-racial society.  However, even after President Obama was re-elected a number of African-Americans and Latinos have noticed an ever increasing trend of  bias, discrimination and other social prejudices across the board in business, education, housing and more.  Reversing this trend requires an in-depth understanding of  the thought processes which may trigger stereotyping and lead to discrimination in organizational and other settings in the first place.

That’s why work done by individuals like Modupe Akinola (assistant professor of management at Columbia Business School), Katherine Milkman of Wharton and Dolly Chugh of NYU is so important and relevant at a time when American society appears to be  more separate than equal.  Learning all we can about people’s tendency to discriminate will hopefully bring about thoughtful and lasting solutions.

The following excerpt is posted with the permission of Columbia Ideas at Work, a publication of Columbia Business School.  The full article appeared in the Columbia Ideas10-017 Columbia - Spring 2010 Coverage at Work, a publication of Columbia Business School, Winter 2013 Edition and was originally posted online July 30, 2012.   No Time for Discrimination By:  Professor Modupe Akinola

“Discrimination against minorities and women — whether in housing, education, or employment — is a complex, long-standing phenomenon with origins that are not clear-cut. For organizational psychologists like Professor Modupe Akinola, understanding the conditions under which discrimination is more likely to occur is an important research priority, and one that can help individuals and firms curb the incidence of bias.

Inspired by the work of Yaacov Trope and Nira Liberman, Akinola, with Katherine Milkman of Wharton and Dolly Chugh of NYU, investigated how temporal distance affects the tendency to discriminate. Trope and Lieberman have shown that decision makers faced with choices in the immediate future focus on the practical details and feasibility of the choice, quickly assessing how, when, and whether something can be done.  In contrast, distant future events trigger a more abstract thought process — decision makers think less about the practical aspects of a decision and instead focus on why they might chose a particular course of action.

The researchers hypothesized that more abstract — and subjective and judgmental — thought processes might trigger stereotyping and lead to discrimination in organizational settings. They predicted that when decision makers faced a choice about a distant future event, such as meeting with an individual in one week, the choice would trigger an abstract mode of thinking causing professors to question why the meeting should occur rather than whether the meeting should occur. Thus, a meeting request from a woman or person of color might evoke stereotypes.”  Read More.

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