Racial Stereotypes and Survey Bias

npr_logo_rgbWe generally tend to think of racial identifiers as static labels, an attribute we are born with like gender. I am—and have always been—a white male. Moreover, we know that cultural stereotypes around race have a strong influence on how people are perceived. For this reason, studies are often conducted to capture the degree to which racial identification leads to measurable disparities. We use these presumably static labels to report on differences in health, economics, education, and more.

But is a person’s racial identity set at birth? An interesting story produced by NPR News describes work from a team of sociologists at Stanford who found that the answer is no. This serves as a good reminder about the complex ways in which bias can manifest itself when analyzing population data of all kinds. Electronic health data is no less succeptible to the same societal forces.

Click here to visit the NPR website to listen online.

Sch of Inform and Libr Science

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