A heartbreaking story from someone who has worked in China for a while: “I found it so hard to tell my classmates apart. But when you meet someone for the fifth time, you can’t really ask: Who were you again?” Another question: A black woman who signed up for a gym was asked what If it was the sister of someone who had been a member for some time, a dark-skinned woman as well. After her exile, her white interlocutor apologized, “Sorry, but you two are very similar.”
According to psychologists, this type of unpleasant situation is the result of a phenomenon that is as common as it is difficult: The influence of other race (raw). Also Through the effect of race mentioned.
ORE is the phenomenon that people identify other people with their skin color more easily than people of a different color. This leads to all kinds of problems. For example, eyewitnesses in court cases appear to be systematically less reliable when they have to identify someone with a different skin color.
He. She The influence of other race It has nothing to do with intentional racial discrimination
A recent study by Australian researcher Elinor McKone and colleagues showed that ORE also leads to more mundane social problems. Chinese students who have recently moved to Australia are tested and questioned on many points. This showed that the vast majority of students find it difficult to distinguish from fellow Australian students and that Australian students and teachers themselves are regularly confused with other Chinese students. According to McConne and colleagues, ORE contributes to racial segregation. According to their research, the difficulty of recognizing and recognizing people of different color is as great a barrier to integration as a language barrier.
ORE has nothing to do with intentional racial discrimination. Research by British psychologist David Kelly shows that we specialize in recognizing people of our color before we are nine months old. After that, it will still be much more difficult for the rest of your life to distinguish people of different colors from each other. However, this does not happen when babies meet people of other races already in their early months.
While ORE leads to all kinds of unintended discrimination, the effect in and of itself does not. Whatever your skin tone, distinguishing people of different colors is always more difficult than separating people of your color.
Can you do something about the influence of other race, for example because you want to stimulate diversity and inclusion at work? Yes, this is very simple. It helps to know that there is such a thing as ORE. It has also been investigated. People who had been forewarned about the effect in experiments and who were instructed not only to categorize people, but to pay attention to individual characteristics, later seem to recognize people of different colors as well as people of their own color.
It is really good that sometimes knowledge has such direct positive effects. And a little difficult at the same time. Because after you’ve written and read this piece, we can no longer hide behind our own ignorance and a strange effect on our brain.
Ben Tegellar He writes weekly about personal leadership, work and management.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on June 26, 2021
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of June 26, 2021