Identifying and Dismantling Systemic Racism in Psychological Science

Steven O. Roberts
People in Project

Steven O. Roberts (Department of Psychology)

Project Description:

Psychological science is uniquely positioned to identify and dismantle the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that reinforce racism. For instance, Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s classic research on children’s racial attitudes helped desegregate U.S. schools. Yet like the rest of science, psychology has a racism problem. The present research will help identify and dismantle racism within psychological science so that it may more effectively identify and dismantle in the real world. Across three studies, we examine racial inequality in how psychological research is invited, reviewed, and presented. In Study 1, we experimentally measure whether journals without diversity statements or diverse editorial board members signal to researchers of color that their research is not welcomed, and that those researchers in turn submit their research elsewhere. In Study 2, we will experimentally measure whether psychological scientists evaluate research with White samples as better than the exact same research with Black samples. In Study 3, we will content analyze 1,562 poster and spoken presentations and examine how often samples of color are depicted, and how they are depicted (i.e., positive vs. negative imagery). Collectively, this research seeks to understand the extent of systemic racism across multiple levels of psychological science, thereby positioning us to make empirically-based recommendations on how to move the science toward greater equity.