‘The more liberal respondents are, the more willing they are to discriminate’
A recent study by Tilburg University is gaining attention for its stunning conclusion that among psychologists, conservatives have reason to fear negative consequences should their political beliefs be revealed.
“In decisions ranging from paper reviews to hiring, many social and personality psychologists admit that they would discriminate against openly conservative colleagues,” the authors, Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers, wrote.
“The more liberal respondents are, the more willing they are to discriminate.”
The study was done by the two members of the Department of Social Psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. They warned specifically that conservatives who fear harm if their colleagues discover their leanings “are right to do so.”
The results got the attention of the U.S.-based Alliance Defending Freedom, which runs a Center for Academic Freedom. There, Travis C. Barham, litigation staff counsel, noted the results “should come as a disappointment to those who think that we should – in the words of Thomas Jefferson – ‘follow the truth wherever it may lead.’”
“As the researchers noted, ‘as offensive as it may seem to many social psychologists, believing that abortion is murder does not mean that one cannot do excellent research,’” wrote Barham.
“And these results should also disturb the millions of Americans who think that universities should serve as a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ where all perspectives are welcome and addressed on their merits,” he wrote.
The study found participants were asked how likely they would be to discriminate against conservatives regarding issues such as evaluating papers, symposium invitations, grants and even job applications.
“They also asked participants how likely their colleagues would be to discriminate against conservatives in the same areas. The results were disturbing,” Barham wrote. “Almost 20 percent admitted they would at least be somewhat inclined to discriminate against conservatives when reviewing papers. Almost 25 percent would discriminate in reviewing grants and almost 40 percent would when making hiring decisions.”
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