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The Challenge of Detecting Contemporary Forms of Discrimination


Jason A. Nier, Department of Psychology, Box 5305, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320. Tel: 860 439 5057 [e-mail:].


While the persistent and widespread racial and gender inequalities that exist in the United States are almost certainly due to a combination of many different factors, one likely source of inequality is discrimination. As decades of research in social psychology suggest, this discrimination is often subtle and difficult to detect, and in some instances, may be unintentional. Although this type of discrimination is subtle, it is nonetheless damaging to those who are its victims and the cumulative effects of such discrimination may be substantial. In the domains of race and gender, in which individuals are presumably legally protected from discrimination, people are deprived of their civil rights when they face such behavior. Therefore, an important goal for research and practice in intergroup relations is to develop techniques that allow such discrimination to be reliably detected and to distinguish discriminatory conduct from behavior that is not influenced by subtle racial and gender biases.