People judge others based on personality traits, study finds

Intuitively, most people feel the most threatened by being judged harshly, but ironically this personification of person is put to rest in a research by The Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (HHStheSchool) that assessed people’s extent to inhibit defensive self-protection and provided key data on discrimination rights.

The results from a study published online Jan. 25 in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), refute the idea that people are less tolerant of being judged harshly than others.

“We found that overt bias towards racial or ethnic minorities was much more common in whites, people who tend to be more politically liberal than one would think,” said Glenn Turchin, the Edward and Eleanor Stevens Professor of the School’s Department of Public Health and senior author of the paper. “Our data suggest that overt bias targeting greater numbers of minority groups may not be as common.”

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The researchers survey 2,379 people living in the U.S.-based National Urban Population Database to identify American adults who self-reported being systematically judged less as individuals, supporters or both.

“This demonstrates that overt bias can play an outsized role,” said H. Michael Fleming, the base of central core of the research, and senior author of the paper. “Criticism against one’s group, be it racial or ethnic, increased when objective self-report was combined with apparent internal and external bias against one’s group.”

The observed difference in explicit bias might be found in five specific situations:

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Those who self-identified as a prototypical racial or ethnic minority group were less likely than non-minority and non-Latino adults to feel threatened by being judged harshly. The mechanism behind this stigma seems to be tied to self-districting in which a person is kept from entering a given community without the permission of occupying another person.

“We also saw a two-step pattern,” Fleming said. “The higher the degree of overt bias, the more people in the study perceived the probability of being excluded from public spaces and, as a result, the likelihood of being attacked by other people. The higher the degree of bias, the more people in the study perceived the social threat as being less than zero.”

The survey was subsequently accompanied by a descriptive questionnaire, which assessed the extent of discrimination faced by people of two races or ethnic groups, six subgroups of racial/ethnic ethnic groups, three countries, seven states and one territory. Forms for responses were created by two social scientists and 15 females, four men, five men and two territories.

In the United States, the poverty line for each category was one dollar per day at the point of each survey round. In subgroups and countries where poverty rates per capita were generally higher than in the United States, the poverty line was four dollars a day.

Overall, only 3.5 percent reported having faced such discrimination over recent years. However, this finding was highly significant, as it indicated that the majority of people see such discrimination as very or somewhat common.

“This is the first evidence that we have seen regarding explicit bias towards racial/ethnic groups,” Dr. Fleur said. “The current findings suggest that implicit attitudes toward racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. may be molded, at least in some cultural areas and probably by growing up, as individuals seek to understand what others do to them and to themselves.”