May 13, 2015

Rachel Riskind Quoted in Book About Equality

Rachel Riskind, assistant professor of psychology, is quoted in a new book by Michelangelo Signorile, It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality.

The book, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, describes research by Rachel and her collaborators on the psychology of implicit (non-conscious, automatic) attitudes towards lesbian and gay people. Despite larger changes in Americans’ self-reported attitudes in this area over the past decade, Rachel and her fellow researchers examined a large, national sample and found that the change in implicit bias has been “pretty small.”

“Our goal was to say, ‘Okay, the public polls say there’s been change in explicit attitudes,’” Rachel told the author. “‘What about implicit attitudes?’”

“Implicit attitudes changed, but not much. It’s about half of the size in the change in explicit attitudes. This suggests that there are many people who are unwilling to report their antigay attitudes. Some people may not even be consciously aware of their antigay attitudes.”

In other words, many of the heterosexual Americans who report increasingly positive attitudes on surveys may be unaware that they harbor negative attitudes or may be less willing to report these negative attitudes. It’s Not Over describes the implications of this research for public policy.