PC, A Waste of Time?

I have so much I would like to write about but have not had the time lately.  I appreciate those who take the time to read and comment because that is how I learn.  This research article got my attention, so I must post it.  For those doubters that political correctness and raising consciousnesses to our biases do not change anything, perhaps a study conducted over 14 years may.

Many conservatives believe that racism does not exist.  It is nothing more than a conspiracy—a way for liberal politicians to exploit our mistaken beliefs.  But implicit and explicit biases, which this study measured in 7.1 million tests, are a real thing.  When we automatically make judgments without being aware of it, say old is bad and young is good, then this is implicit.  By contrast, when we consciously and deliberately make negative judgments toward others, these are explicit biases.  Researchers have devised clever tests that can reliably distinguish between the two.  If we read the abstract below, we will see that biases in almost every category decreased with the exception of “age, disability, and body-weight attitudes.”

I am always appalled when I learn that a co-worker believes that there is no such thing as bias and racism.  There has been a concerted effort by the political right to spread this propaganda for decades now.   This goes back to the 1970s when anti-PC propaganda often originated from think tanks, such as the Cato Institute.  Many myths about political correctness have been born as a result.  I will post these myths in the next post.

I do not know how much the study hypothesizes that changes in attitudes come from the concerted efforts of political correctness in our culture versus other causes.  But where else would it come from other than our culture raising awareness?  I suppose we can reason that equality is just and then start equal treatment ourselves.  In any event, here is the abstract from the article.  I do not have access to it, so I have not read it yet and cannot attest to its significance.  If we like to appeal to authority, Steven Pinker, like him or hate him, did post this as evidence as well on Twitter.  I will soon get my hands on a copy of it and report back.

Research Article’s Abstract

Using more than 7.1 million implicit and explicit attitude tests drawn from U.S. participants to the Project Implicit website, we examined long-term trends across 14 years (2007–2020). Despite tumultuous sociopolitical events, trends from 2017 to 2020 persisted largely as forecasted from past data (2007–2016). Since 2007, all explicit attitudes decreased in bias between 22% (age attitudes) and 98% (race attitudes). Implicit sexuality, race, and skin-tone attitudes also continued to decrease in bias, by 65%, 26%, and 25%, respectively. Implicit age, disability, and body-weight attitudes, however, continued to show little to no long-term change. Patterns of change and stability were generally consistent across demographic groups (e.g., men and women), indicating widespread, macrolevel change. Ultimately, the data magnify evidence that (some) implicit attitudes reveal persistent, long-term change toward neutrality. The data also newly reveal the potential for short-term influence from sociopolitical events that temporarily disrupt progress toward neutrality, although attitudes eventually return to long-term homeostasis in trends.

Charlesworth, T. E. S., & Banaji, M. R. (2022). Patterns of Implicit and Explicit Attitudes: IV. Change and Stability From 2007 to 2020. Psychological Science, 33(9), 1347–1371. https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976221084257


  1. Katydid says

    What the right sneers at as “political correctness” or just plan “pc” is just basic civility. In my experience, the people who make the most noise about it want to be openly disrespectful and biased against people they consider their inferiors and are furious that (many parts of) society no longer condone it.

    Also in my experience, the people who complain the loudest and proudly boast that they’re “not pc” are the first to lose their minds and carry on if they feel someone is not respecting them or treating them with their estimation of their own worth.

    • musing says

      I completely agree. The last statement is so true. It is a matter of decency and respect. The way it has come to be used, however, is that anything that is not sincere is PC. Now that is interesting. There is a reason why it has come to this though. I will post more on this in the next post soon. Thanks for the comment.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    I like Stewart Lee’s definition of political correctness: “an often clumsy negotiation towards a kind of formally inclusive language. And there’s all sorts of problems with it. But it’s better than what we had before”.

    It brooks no disagreement, imo.

    • musing says

      I only think there are problems with it if it is interpreted in a certain kind of way. I will explain in the next post. Thanks for the comment.

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