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The Boston Globe


Uncommon Knoweldge

Hot and can’t be bothered

And more surprising insights from the social sciences

Low and tough

By definition, people in disadvantaged groups experience more hardship and suffering in a society. But new research suggests that this experience may also cause a feedback loop, creating the impression that they’re hardier and don’t need relief. For example, the researchers found that black players on the NFL injury list were rated by team officials as more likely than white players to play in the next game, even controlling for the player’s experience, position, and injury type. (In the case of concussions, where standardized testing has been mandated, the groups were even.) Likewise, in a series of experiments, both white and black participants—and nurses—predicted that a black person would feel less pain than a white person in various situations. This was true even when the researchers presented participants with the same bi-racial face: If the person was described as black, he or she was expected to feel less pain. This bias wasn’t explained by racial prejudice per se, but rather by the stereotype of low-status people being hardier, as the effect of race disappeared when controlling for relative privilege and status.

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