Posted on October 22, 2010

Affirmative Discrimination

"Schumpeter," The Economist, October 20, 2010

ON THE subject of meritocracy, an interesting academic experiment shows that people have started to assume that black students from elite schools are the beneficiaries of affirmative action, and therefore do not deserve their professional qualifications:

“An experiment designed to test perceptions of affirmative action found that independent observers rated companies significantly lower when they were told the top executives were African-American graduates of prestigious universities, instead of white. The difference went away when the executives were said to have graduated from less selective schools, and when the evaluators were told that the more selective schools exercised race-blind admissions.”

Perhaps minorities will eventually revolt against affirmative action on the grounds that the rent is just too damn high.

[The study mentioned above, “Too Good to Be True? The Unintended Signaling Effects of Educational Prestige on External Expectations of Team Performance,” by Stephen J. Sauer, Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt, and Patrick A. Morris can be read here. There is a charge.]