Wednesday, May 1, 2019

American Renaissance admires Lee Jussim's work

Lee Jussim, chairman of the psychology department at Rutgers, and author at Quillette wrote a book that caught the fancy of the white supremacists at American Renaissance in 2015 in their review entitled "A Blow Against Anti-White Science."

Lee Jussim, Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, Oxford University Press, 2014, 404 pp., $84.00.
This is a very important book. It is an extensive and painstaking refutation of a set of mistaken assumptions that have dominated social science research since the 1950s, and continue to bias the thinking of most professionals in the field. It is a book for specialists–exhaustive and meticulously documented–but it systematically dismantles the illusions that helped give rise to today’s reflexive suspicion of whites. The author, Lee Jussim, is chairman of the psychology department at Rutgers University, and has spent his entire professional life as a social psychologist
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I hadn't noticed Lee Jussim until running into him on Twitter in April, but since then have been keeping an eye out. His promotion of the idea that stereotypes are real struck me as pointless, but on reflection suspected it was one more trick from the evolutionary psychologists to biologize inequality.

Then I found Steven Pinker quoting him and knew I was right.

Pinker had his ass handed to him by Elizabeth Spelke in their debate in 2005 reprinted in Edge.org although he calls on Jussim to help him out:
There is a widespread myth that teachers (who of course are disproportionately female) are dupes who perpetuate gender inequities by failing to call on girls in class, and who otherwise having low expectations of girls' performance. In fact Jussim and Eccles, in a study of 100 teachers and 1,800 students, concluded that teachers seemed to be basing their perceptions of students on those students' actual performances and motivation... 
...Likewise, Alice Eagly and Jussim and Eccles have shown that most of people's gender stereotypes are in fact pretty accurate. Indeed the error people make is in the direction of underpredicting sex differences.

Spelke's response (my highlights)
So, what's causing the gender imbalance on faculties of math and science? Not differences in intrinsic aptitude. Let's turn to the social factors that I think are much more important. Because I'm venturing outside my own area of work, and because time is short, I won't review all of the social factors producing differential success of men and women. I will talk about just one effect: how gender stereotypes influence the ways in which males and females are perceived. 
Let me start with studies of parents' perceptions of their own children. Steve said that parents report that they treat their children equally. They treat their boys and girls alike, and they encourage them to equal extents, for they want both their sons and their daughters to succeed. This is no doubt true. But how are parents perceiving their kids?
Some studies have interviewed parents just after the birth of their child, at the point where the first question that 80% of parents ask — is it a boy or a girl? — has been answered. Parents of boys describe their babies as stronger, heartier, and bigger than parents of girls. The investigators also looked at the babies' medical records and asked whether there really were differences between the boys and girls in weight, strength, or coordination. The boys and girls were indistinguishable in these respects, but the parents' descriptions were different.
At 12 months of age, girls and boys show equal abilities to walk, crawl, or clamber. But before one study, Karen Adolph, an investigator of infants' locomotor development, asked parents to predict how well their child would do on a set of crawling tasks: Would the child be able to crawl down a sloping ramp? Parents of sons were more confident that their child would make it down the ramp than parents of daughters. When Adolph tested the infants on the ramp, there was no difference whatever between the sons and daughters, but there was a difference in the parents' predictions.
My third example, moving up in age, comes from the studies of Jackie Eccles. She asked parents of boys and girls in sixth grade, how talented do you think your child is in mathematics? Parents of sons were more likely to judge that their sons had talent than parents of daughters. A panoply of objective measures, including math grades in school, performance on standardized tests, teachers' evaluations, and children's expressed interest in math, revealed no differences between the girls and boys. Still, there was a difference in parents' perception of their child's intangible talent. Other studies have shown a similar effect for science.
There's clearly a mismatch between what parents perceive in their kids and what objective measures reveal. But is it possible that the parents are seeing something that the objective measures are missing? Maybe the boy getting B's in his math class really is a mathematical genius, and his mom or dad has sensed that. To eliminate that possibility, we need to present observers with the very same baby, or child, or Ph.D. candidate, and manipulate their belief about the person's gender. Then we can ask whether their belief influences their perception.
It's hard to do these studies, but there are examples, and I will describe a few of them. A bunch of studies take the following form: you show a group of parents, or college undergraduates, video-clips of babies that they don't know personally. For half of them you give the baby a male name, and for the other half you give the baby a female name. (Male and female babies don't look very different.) The observers watch the baby and then are asked a series of questions: What is the baby doing? What is the baby feeling? How would you rate the baby on a dimension like strong-to-weak, or more intelligent to less intelligent? There are two important findings.
First, when babies do something unambiguous, reports are not affected by the baby's gender. If the baby clearly smiles, everybody says the baby is smiling or happy. Perception of children is not pure hallucination. Second, children often do things that are ambiguous, and parents face questions whose answers aren't easily readable off their child's overt behavior. In those cases, you see some interesting gender labeling effects. For example, in one study a child on a video-clip was playing with a jack-in-the-box. It suddenly popped up, and the child was startled and jumped backward. When people were asked, what's the child feeling, those who were given a female label said, "she's afraid." But the ones given a male label said, "he's angry." Same child, same reaction, different interpretation.
In other studies, children with male names were more likely to be rated as strong, intelligent, and active; those with female names were more likely to be rated as little, soft, and so forth.
I think these perceptions matter. You, as a parent, may be completely committed to treating your male and female children equally. But no sane parents would treat a fearful child the same way they treat an angry child. If knowledge of a child's gender affects adults' perception of that child, then male and female children are going to elicit different reactions from the world, different patterns of encouragement. These perceptions matter, even in parents who are committed to treating sons and daughters alike.
I will give you one last version of a gender-labeling study. This one hits particularly close to home. The subjects in the study were people like Steve and me: professors of psychology, who were sent some vitas to evaluate as applicants for a tenure track position. Two different vitas were used in the study. One was a vita of a walk-on-water candidate, best candidate you've ever seen, you would die to have this person on your faculty. The other vita was a middling, average vita among successful candidates. For half the professors, the name on the vita was male, for the other half the name was female. People were asked a series of questions: What do you think about this candidate's research productivity? What do you think about his or her teaching experience? And finally, Would you hire this candidate at your university?
For the walk-on-water candidate, there was no effect of gender labeling on these judgments. I think this finding supports Steve's view that we're dealing with little overt discrimination at universities. It's not as if professors see a female name on a vita and think, I don't want her. When the vita's great, everybody says great, let's hire.
What about the average successful vita, though: that is to say, the kind of vita that professors most often must evaluate? In that case, there were differences. The male was rated as having higher research productivity. These psychologists, Steve's and my colleagues, looked at the same number of publications and thought, "good productivity" when the name was male, and "less good productivity" when the name was female. Same thing for teaching experience. The very same list of courses was seen as good teaching experience when the name was male, and less good teaching experience when the name was female. In answer to the question would they hire the candidate, 70% said yes for the male, 45% for the female. If the decision were made by majority rule, the male would get hired and the female would not.
A couple other interesting things came out of this study. The effects were every bit as strong among the female respondents as among the male respondents. Men are not the culprits here. There were effects at the tenure level as well. At the tenure level, professors evaluated a very strong candidate, and almost everyone said this looked like a good case for tenure. But people were invited to express their reservations, and they came up with some very reasonable doubts. For example, "This person looks very strong, but before I agree to give her tenure I would need to know, was this her own work or the work of her adviser?" Now that's a perfectly reasonable question to ask. But what ought to give us pause is that those kinds of reservations were expressed four times more often when the name was female than when the name was male.
So there's a pervasive difference in perceptions, and I think the difference matters. Scientists' perception of the quality of a candidate will influence the likelihood that the candidate will get a fellowship, a job, resources, or a promotion. A pattern of biased evaluation therefore will occur even in people who are absolutely committed to gender equity.
I have little doubt that all my colleagues here at Harvard are committed to the principle that a male candidate and a female candidate of equal qualifications should have equal chance at a job. But we also think that when we compare a more productive scholar to a less productive one, a more experienced teacher to a less experienced one, a more independent investigator to a less independent one, those factors matter as well. These studies say that knowledge of a person's gender will influence our assessment of those factors, and that's going to produce a pattern of discrimination, even in people with the best intentions.
From the moment of birth to the moment of tenure, throughout this great developmental progression, there are unintentional but pervasive and important differences in the ways that males and females are perceived and evaluated.