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Researchers Find Racial Bias In Virtual Worlds

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the big-shocker dept.

Social Networks 592

schliz writes "Real-world behaviours and racial biases could carry forward into virtual worlds such as Second Life, social psychologists say. According to a study that was conducted in There.com, virtual world avatars respond to social cues in the same ways that people do in the real world. Users, who were unaware that they were part of a psychological study, were approached by a researcher's avatar for either a 'foot-in-the-door' (FITD) or 'door-in-the-face' (DITF) experiment. While results of the FITD experiment revealed no racial bias, the effect of the DITF technique was significantly reduced when the experimenter took the form of a dark-skinned avatar."

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RACIST! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960431)

You're just saying that because I'm blue...

Re:RACIST! (5, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 6 years ago | (#24960893)

No, no.
Driving the Indy car around was the give-away you're a racist.

Re:RACIST! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 6 years ago | (#24961125)

Whats that have to do with racism? Or arre you just attempting to trash based on stereo types?

FITD vs DITF (5, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 6 years ago | (#24960437)

I had never heard of the Foot-In-The-Door experiment or Door-In-The-Face experiments before reading the article. Turns out they are actually very interesting and clever experiments which reveal behavioral tendencies the explanation of which is plausably related to how a person sees themselves (in the FITD case) or how they see others (in the DITF case).

In a nutshell, if someone makes a small request of you that you are likely to agree to, then you will be more likely to agree to a second, larger request, because you will have seen yourself as being helpful in complying with the first request and want to continue being helpful by complying with the second request.

And, if someone makes a large request of you, a request so onerous that most people would not accept it, then you will be more likely to agree to a smaller second request, to a greater extent than you would have had you not been asked the first, more onerous request. The explanation for this is that you are trying to reciprocate on the asker's reducing the size of their request by increasing your willingness to respond to a request beyond what your base level would otherwise be. It's a kind of a subconscious negotiation process that you are engaging in with someone else, basically meeting them halfway.

However, this second scenario is affected by how worthy you subconsciously believe that the other person is of this kind of negotiation (the first scenario is not because your response is affected by how you see yourself, not how you see the asker). And apparently, if you perceive the other person as being unworthy of this kind of negotiation, then you are less likely to meet them halfway and agree to the second request.

OK, so, this article basically says that darker-skinned avatars in virtual worlds essentially are less likely to be met halfway, ostensibly because, on average, they are perceived as being less important than lighter-skinned avatars.

I don't think it should come as a surprise to anyone that people's racial biases are carried through to a virtual world from the real world. So in a sense, this whole article, aside from being informative about some interesting psychological tests and their results, is kind of one big 'no duh'.

What would be really interesting to know is if, in these situations, there is a greater degree of this kind of bias in one race or socioeconomic class than another, or if it's universal.

Also, I would just like to point out that racial bias does not necessarily mean racism. I personally believe that racial bias is a natural part of the human psyche, and as long as it is recognized, and understood, and does not adversely disadvantage any particular group of people, should be accepted. But that's just me.

Re:FITD vs DITF (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960507)

Furry Sympathizer!

GET HIM!

Re:FITD vs DITF (5, Interesting)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 6 years ago | (#24960513)

"Also, I would just like to point out that racial bias does not necessarily mean racism. I personally believe that racial bias is a natural part of the human psyche, and as long as it is recognized, and understood, and does not adversely disadvantage any particular group of people, should be accepted. But that's just me."

Well, it looks like you defined racism very properly. Being biased based on the color of skin is being racist. I do not judge about it, just saying that it is.

"I'm not racist, I'm racially biased!" is something most people would laugh at.

Re:FITD vs DITF (4, Interesting)

Gerzel (240421) | about 6 years ago | (#24960597)

Most people would laugh at a lot of things that when thought about are true. People laughing is not a good test for truth, veracity, or factuality in nearly all cases.

The term 'racist" carries with it strong connotations of ignorance and bigotry, and it is unfair to call someone who it honestly attempting to be fair and equal with all people regardless of race racist if they still possess some small racial bias outside a strictly academic field.

Re:FITD vs DITF (5, Interesting)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 6 years ago | (#24960701)

Back in the day I used a simple method of getting into clubs without challenge.
I wore black.
In the same style as the bouncers.

The basis: Since I was dressed the same as the bouncers they were more inclined to treat me in a positive way.
And it worked.
very very well.
When I didn't wear black I tended to be challenged much more etc.

Now people are hardwired to act like this. Someone who dresses the same, acts the same looks the same is more likely to be trusted than someone who looks or acts in a very different manner.
It's tribalism. Wanna bet you're immune?

As far as I'm concerned skin colour is no more important than hair colour.(damn dirty gingers!)Is reacting more positively to someone with brown hair than to someone with blond hair racist?

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 6 years ago | (#24960829)

"Wanna bet you're immune?"

Don't put words in my mouth.

I never said that I did. But you need to call a cow a cow and downplaying racism by calling it "racially biased" is a way to dodge accusations of racism.

Nobody would accept it from a klanmember so it is merely an excuse to be racist and politically correct at the same time.

Re:FITD vs DITF (5, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 6 years ago | (#24961005)

Interesting though that I can say "I only find women with black hair attractive"
and nobody will blink.
If I however say "I only find women with black/white skin attractive"
Suddenly I'm a flavour of racist.

Hell I could probably get away with including "applicants must have black hair" on a job ad and get away with it.

they're both nothing more than pigments but if you use one to make a descision about people then you're a dirty racist.

Down with Hairism!

Re:FITD vs DITF (4, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 6 years ago | (#24961063)

Guess what, that's totally true.

It's just that it doesn't play a major role in society that nobody cares about it. The only thing I can think of is people with ginger hair. Those people are called lighthouses as a derogatory word where I live.

It's just as crappy as racism.

Re:FITD vs DITF (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960705)

Look at the definition of racism. It means you believe one race to be superior to another.

Racially biased simply means you choose one over the other. It has been proved, and is logically obvious based upon the facts of evolutionary biology, that everyone prefers others of their same race. This is not because they think they are superior, but simply because they are programed to. They are not programed to think they are superior, they are programed to protect the distinctness of their race, to prevent its extinction. As well, organisms evolved altruism to help themselves. An organism, say the White race, naturally evolved to help itself over other organisms, in order to give itself an advantage over the other competing organisms on this planet. Just as one is programed to help their family first, before helping people outside their family, everyone is programmed to help their own race first, before helping others.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1, Insightful)

thufir (129668) | about 6 years ago | (#24960789)

Look at the definition of racism. It means you believe one race to be superior to another.

Being racially biased simply means you choose one over the other. It has been proved, and is logically obvious based upon the facts of evolutionary biology, that everyone prefers others of their same race. This is not because they think they are superior, but simply because they are programed to. They are not programed to think they are superior, they are programed to protect the distinctness of their race, to prevent its extinction. As well, organisms evolved altruism to help themselves. An organism, say the White race, naturally evolved to help itself over other organisms, in order to give itself an advantage over the other competing organisms on this planet. Just as one is programed to help their family first, before helping people outside their family, everyone is programmed to help their own race first, before helping others.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 6 years ago | (#24960881)

So what does it mean when you hate people of your own race then? Seriously, I'm as white as they come and yet cannot stand white people, esp. white women. I like every other race except for white women, so am I racist? What does that say about my programming?

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 6 years ago | (#24960945)

genetic diversity.
Same reason girls tend to like boys from out of town.(ok there's the no commitment thing too but..)
Avoids inbreeding.

Re:FITD vs DITF (0, Troll)

thufir (129668) | about 6 years ago | (#24961095)

No, more like brainwashing. Whites are being brainwashed to mix with alien races in order to destroy their distinctness and cause their extinction.

Studies show that outbreeding depression is worse than inbreeding depression.

Studies showed that after a population size of approximately 500, that inbreeding depression is so negligible that increasing the amount of population makes almost no difference. There are two studies that both came to that number (one exactly, the other was close). One study was done on snakes, the other on horses I believe. None were done on humans for political correctness reasons. The proof of human correlation with the two studies i mention is that in Iceland, until recently, the average distance between couples was 3rd cousins, and look how high quality Icelandic people are, very high GDP, very high standards of living, 100.0000% literacy rate, etc. Only a little more than 300 thousand people there.

Also, to see the fallacy in the current line of thinking with inbreeding, just extend it to its obvious ridiculous conclusion.

If the White race is being damaged by not breeding outside their race, then the human species is being damaged by not breeding outside their species. We need more interspecies matings with aliens and animals, or we are going to devolve.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

thufir (129668) | about 6 years ago | (#24960947)

That is natural in the environment of most White nations due to the fact that such destructive brainwashing as "Sex in the City" targets White Women.

Re:FITD vs DITF (0, Troll)

thufir (129668) | about 6 years ago | (#24960979)

Also, you were brainwashed by the media and schooling system to be instilled with White Guilt, for the purpose of causing the exact result you are describing (among other purposes).

Re:FITD vs DITF (-1, Troll)

nospam007 (722110) | about 6 years ago | (#24961013)

It means you are gay.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Lord_Frederick (642312) | about 6 years ago | (#24961021)

It means you were badly coded in Java.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

emj (15659) | about 6 years ago | (#24961105)

Not very common, and never treated as something serious. E.g. there was a black guy around here that called himself a nazi, and was generally against blacks and jews. I don't think anyone took him seriously.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#24961007)

Absolutely right. Are we supposed to be emo biased because we don't like the makeup? When we see emo makeup, should we stop and evaluate each person personally, or simply assume they are emo? Cultural bias is natural, and in fact there is evidence that biologically, we choose mates based on it. When someone falls outside our 'culture' we are biased against them. That is how life is, socially, biologically, realistically! period.

Yes, when you go looking for bias, you will find it, and if you look for bias against French people, you can find it, or trailer trash whites. The online culture is not the same as real life. Close, but not an exact match. This study, along with others, is both clever and revealing, but you have to understand that bias is part of life, and that very fact skews the study. But wait, are you saying that such things cannot be studied? No, they can, but for any group you query about such things, you limit your exposure to the wide variety of life. How many black inner-city youths do you imagine use the Internet? How many do you imagine get on line with virtual worlds? How much bias did you just show?

While the point of such studies might be good, honest, and in good faith, they rarely ever take into account the bias they add by just having the survey. In picking virtual worlds, they picked a biased community to study. Sure, there is bias there, as there is everywhere in life. duh!

Re:FITD vs DITF (0)

garcia (6573) | about 6 years ago | (#24960517)

I don't agree that racial bias is a natural part of anything. If you dropped two people without any knowledge of how the world currently works in a room together and let them do whatever it is they're going to do, the last thing on their minds would be their skin color.

Re:FITD vs DITF (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960645)

If you dropped two people without any knowledge of how the world currently works in a room together

And since when is total isolation natural? Humans evolved in tribes. We've a whole bunch of routines hard-coded in our brains to distinguish between 'kin' and 'other'. A different skin colour is a massive red flag.

Re:FITD vs DITF (3, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 6 years ago | (#24960963)

And since when is total isolation natural?

So typed the AC in his parents basement before clicking submit.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 6 years ago | (#24961129)

Yeah. Just think... if his parents called him up for dinner tonight and he noticed they had green skin, he'd probably be wary. The whole 'kin' / 'other' thing, you know...

Re:FITD vs DITF (3, Interesting)

iamhigh (1252742) | about 6 years ago | (#24960651)

I don't agree that racial bias is a natural part of anything. If you dropped two people without any knowledge of how the world currently works in a room together and let them do whatever it is they're going to do, the last thing on their minds would be their skin color.

That might be true, but we weren't just dropped here, now were we? We have thousands of years of history, good and bad, and we have evolved highly complex societies.

What the OP was perhaps trying to say is that it is 100% human nature to help out your "own kind", whatever that might be. Short people stick up for other short people. Americans stick up for Americans. Christians stick up for Christians. Atheist stick up for Atheist. This goes all the way down to family and friends. It is no doubt that color/nationality/ethnicity would be a natural extension of this desire to help those like you.

Re:FITD vs DITF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960653)

I agree with the underlying sentiment, but that seems to be to be so much idle speculation. For all you know that might be the FIRST thing either of them notice, even if they don't conceptualize it in a way we would acknowledge as racial consciousness.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Maria D (264552) | about 6 years ago | (#24960683)

This is a tall claim to make about an experiment impossible to conduct. How do you know what would happen? People are, biologically, group animals and there are powerful mechanisms for forming groups and, as a result, for distinguishing group members from non-members. When first introduced, people form groups by superficial means, such as appearances.

Re:FITD vs DITF (4, Insightful)

William Robinson (875390) | about 6 years ago | (#24960721)

Can't agree with you more.

Racism acts like a poison for mind and children are basically free from it before they get to know about it from others/elders. I know it, because, I had been poisoned, and I had to work hard to get rid of it. I started mixing with that community and started seeing the positive side of their culture. And that helped me survive happily while living in many different countries.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 6 years ago | (#24960851)

Well, good for you for overcoming your racist upbringing, and I mean that. But I find it hard to believe that you don't have the same natural racial bias that I think pretty much everyone else in the world has. Lots of other posters in this thread have noted that preferring one's own race in a variety of situations is a part of the tribal instinct for protecting one's own genetic heritage. If you believe in evolution, then you will surely see the logic in this.

Please understand that racism and racial bias really are two different things, and while it's great that you got beyond your racist upbringing, don't falsely believe that you somehow no longer have a racial bias, or that it's something that you should (or could!) get rid of.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | about 6 years ago | (#24960987)

There's a pretty big difference between outright racism and just "Oh, you're so different from me..."

On my floor here, it's about 1/3 black kids. Most of the kids on here don't associate with them, but I think it's mostly because they're the "I'm gonna blast my rap and act like a fucking moron who doesn't know the english language" kind of blacks... In other words, the culture barrier is very high.

Re:FITD vs DITF (4, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 6 years ago | (#24960737)

See, what you're missing is that people have no natural racism per se, but rather we have a natural tendency towards "group identity". In a biological sense, human history hasn't been some happy fairy tale where we all just get along as one groovy family. Our natural tendency is towards supporting our own familial group or tribe. Physical traits are simply one way of telling "us from them". Language is another. So yeah, when you put two people together in a room, the only "us" will be the two of them, so there'll be a tendency towards inclusiveness.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 years ago | (#24960905)

Physical traits are simply one way of telling "us from them".

We can't analyse genes by sight[1], but appearance is a reasonable proxy; people who are related tend to look alike. A gene that caused you to help people who have (or probably have) the same gene would have an obvious survival advantage.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 years ago | (#24960981)

I meant to say: [1] This probably applies to smell in some animals.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 6 years ago | (#24960755)

That depends alot on what you believe the instinctive social behavior of human beings is, and indeed, if you believe that there is an instinctive social behavior at all.

I personally do believe that much of how people behave socially is based on instincts which are "programmed into us by our DNA" (for lack of a better, more verbose, description), to a large degree. I do believe that if you take two people without any knowledge of the world into a room together, they would follow, to a large degree, the same social patterns that we are familiar with. Of course, the expression of these instincts may be quite different than what we would recognize for people who have grown up with the conditioning of a particular society at play, but still, they would be there, and probably would not be unrecognizeable to us.

So if those two people happened to be of different skin color, or in some other way appear very different from each other, and if they had a mirror such that they could compare themselves to the other, I would not be surprised if there were a slight difference in how they treated each other than if they looked much more similar. I would expect a certain level of identification to occur between two people who "looked" like they came from a similar group, resulting in a slightly higher degree of mutual trust, at least initially, until they got to know each other and the much greater body of knowledge that comes from actually *knowing* somebody versus judging them based on an initial feeling about them came into play.

Anwyay, that's what I believe and it's why I think that racial bias is natural. I also think that gender bias, age bias, "attractiveness" bias, and a whole host of other biases based on physical appearance, are natural. That doesn't mean that I think that it's acceptable to have social policies which include such biases, or that outright racism is acceptable in any way.

If you don't believe in instinctive human social behavior, then I can see how you wouldn't believe in natural racial bias. However, I gotta wonder where you think social behavior comes from. Do you really think it's 100% learned? That seems so implausable to me.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 6 years ago | (#24960775)

Skin colour is just something big and obvious.

Lets adjust your experiment.
Put 2 groups of people who know nothing about how the world works into a room, half wearing all white clothes, half wearing all black clothes but otherwise few other distinguishing features.

Let them mill around a little. I'd put money down you'd end up with most of the black shirts on one side and all the white shirts on the other.
Leave it for a little while for people to get used to it.

Now bring in a researcher in white or black clothes and do the 2 experiments with each group. I'd bet my right arm you'd get a better reaction from people wearing the same as the researcher.

it's tribalism and it's very hardwired into peoples heads.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Nursie (632944) | about 6 years ago | (#24960855)

yes, but if you dropped more than two people in, perhaps 6, or a dozen, with equal numbers of two skin tones, and you repeated the experiment a number of times, I'm betting you'd see folks split into skin-colour biased groups more often than not.

It's part of the biological "is like me" test that we have built in.

Is this a cause or justification for prejudice, separatism or disadvantage to particular groups? No, it is not, but AFAICT it's a biological fact we're going to have to learn to live with/work around.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

mikem170 (698970) | about 6 years ago | (#24960907)

I don't agree that racial bias is a natural part of anything. If you dropped two people without any knowledge of how the world currently works in a room together and let them do whatever it is they're going to do, the last thing on their minds would be their skin color.

Drop a few more people in your room and see what happens. Human evolution included favoring the group you belong to. Survival of the fittest, kill or be killed and all that... Think parent-child relationships and the genetic evolution that went on to stengthen this bond then expand it out to siblings and cousins, the people you live with, the people you share food with, the people who will protect you. People really do seem to have a natural tendency to organize into groups. Read the news, politicians manipulate it all the time. Societies organize around their differences, mark themselves for identification, even kids in high schools organize into cliques. Denying this is human nature becuase it is not politically correct does not make it go away.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | about 6 years ago | (#24960933)

I disagree. Two people might work together. Drop many people who are easily and visually separated by a single characteristic (hair colour, ethnicity, etc) and they will very happily form two groups based on the single identifiable characteristic.

Mobs behave differently (and less sanely) than individuals, because of the individuals propensity to self-identify with others. All biasness comes from groups, not from individuals.

Re:FITD vs DITF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960953)

The real question is what happens when you drop the third person into the room.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Dark_MadMax666 (907288) | about 6 years ago | (#24960955)

Very wrong .You have such an example -prisons. "kin" is formed by color and race. Everything else is secondary. You put bunch of people together with no societal constraints and they will group by race and kin .

Re:FITD vs DITF (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#24960549)

From the "whoda thunkit department". Offline racists are racist online too! Wow!

It isn't PC to say this, but African-Americans (I apologize if the term "African American" offends you, I'd be offended if you called me an Irish-American as I'm an American first, but some blacks insist on the term, and some people are offended all too easily) have been shown to have more of a bias against dark skin than white people.

Skin bleaching [google.com] doesn't affect any African racial clue except skin color. Black people don't have surgery to make their noses longer or thinner, or have their lips made thinner (my own lips are pretty big for a white man). But many (by no means all) do take steps to lighten their skin.

This isn't a racial bias, unless you're going to argue that blacks are racist against themselves.

When I was young, racism against blacks was rampant. Our society has changed considerably. In my experience, as whites have become less predjudiced, blacks have become more so.

The way to fight racism is to act like a decent human being. The only person you can change is yourself.

Racist against themselves (2, Insightful)

Wooky_linuxer (685371) | about 6 years ago | (#24960799)

I assume that in the US, racism of black people among themselves might be less prevalent, but, yes, it exists. Here in Brasil (zil for you USers) it is rather common. Being no sociologist, I would say it comes from a low-self esteem, derived from the lack of people you perceive similar to you in commendable positions.

I would invite you to watch brazilian television. If you know nothing about where it came from, you might guess you were in Sweden. I've seen more black/dark colored skinned people on TV when I lived in Germany than here. This does have an incredible effect on young people; if you see no black people labeled as "good", whatever good means in your society, you start to believe you aren't good as well. Over the years, I guess I only saw one Playboy magazine with black woman "bunny". No wonder black women feel diminished in relation to white women, and even black men who achieve financial success prefer to marry white (usually blonde) women. Yep, brazilian society is very different from american - I'd guess we won't even say that Obama is black here. But I doubt the self-racism isn't present at some level in american society.

As for the experiment, and for the people which says someone with a racial bias is not necessarily a racist, consider this: suppose you are the one doing job interviews. What are the odds you will give someone a job if you have a bias against him/her to start with? Perhaps if he can prove he is much better than others, he will get the job, but he starts with a handicap. This is racism. I agree it is not in the same league as wearing KKK vests and burning people, or even cursing them, but it is racism.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 years ago | (#24960551)

The problem with the hypothesis that there is human racial bias, is players may choose avatars of any race; so you know nothing about the real person's race by looking at their character.

Perhaps people who choose light skinned avatars for their characters like light skinned avatars better?

The human controlling the light-skinned avatars that they found to be biased may even personally have dark skin.

Perhaps the virtual world designers have provided less-appealing darked skin avatar choices than other avatar choices.

I wonder what their results would be VS green-skinned avatars or Trolls VS Orc VS Human avatars in other MMORPGs.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960557)

In short:

1. will you give me $10000? -> no!
2. then will you give me $1000? -> arrr... yes..
3. ????
4. profit!!!

Re:FITD vs DITF (2, Funny)

Roxton (73137) | about 6 years ago | (#24960673)

In short:

1. will you give me $10000? -> no!
2. then will you give me $1000? -> arrr... yes.. unless you're black
3. ????
4. White dude profits!!!

Re:FITD vs DITF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960845)

1 Will you give me $10000 -> yes but you must advance $1000 in fees first
2 Yuppi, here is the $1000 advance fee -> wait a moment till I return with the money
3 ?????
4 loss!!!

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

William Robinson (875390) | about 6 years ago | (#24960571)

In a nutshell, if someone makes a small request of you that you are likely to agree to, then you will be more likely to agree to a second, larger request, because you will have seen yourself as being helpful in complying with the first request and want to continue being helpful by complying with the second request.

And, if someone makes a large request of you, a request so onerous that most people would not accept it, then you will be more likely to agree to a smaller second request, to a greater extent than you would have had you not been asked the first, more onerous request. The explanation for this is that you are trying to reciprocate on the asker's reducing the size of their request by increasing your willingness to respond to a request beyond what your base level would otherwise be. It's a kind of a subconscious negotiation process that you are engaging in with someone else, basically meeting them halfway.

Now I understand, why my gf refused my second request. But, hell, she should have met me halfway according to your theory.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#24961051)

Well, I must sort of wonder about the first scenario. Turning it into basically just "how helpful you see yourself as" seems to me a bit of a simplification.

Basically the base objection is that i see myself as a helpful guy generally, not as "helpful towards Bryan's char". From there, this is modified further more by how I see _them_, than by how I see myself.

Assuming it was a perfect stranger and thus doesn't start with any other "modifier" to my reaction towards them: from my experience with other online worlds, it would depend more (or at least as much) on how they performed during that first request. Someone who was nice, polite and said "thanks" is likely to just get filed under "nice acquaintances" by yours truly, and that raises the chance of getting any help again by itself. It has IMHO more to do with him essentially fitting himself under a more favourable category than "complete stranger."

On the other hand, someone who acted like an arsehole during that first help round, or was a source of stress, will be unlikely to get any help from me ever again. In effect, he helped file himself under a category _worse_ than "complete stranger." The fact that I've seen myself helping him once, won't get him any favours.

In effect, it's IMHO more of an "us vs them" situation. That initial contact just gives you a chance to file that guy as closer to "us" or to "them". That new position will influence further interactions.

And just as further support to the idea that it's a sort of "us vs them" thing, on WoW:

- I've played a paladin lots. Any paladin asking for help is _very_ likely to receive assistance. A paladin needing a run through those 3 instances for Verigan's Fist, will almost invariably get me to drop whatever I was doing and help him. (Except if he manages to be an arsehole about it.)

- I've actually played a hunter more, but I've had some very bad experiences when grouped with noob hunters (and I really mean "noob", not "newbie".) It seems that a lot of them can make it to level 70 without getting even the most minimal clue about how to work in a group. My initial reaction will be a lot more circumspect around a hunter.

- I haven't played warriors higher than the 20's or so, because, frankly they die too easily when soloing. And in a group you're like Jesus, you die for other people's sins. So funnily enough I find that I'm very inclined to help a warrior on their level 20 armour quest, because I know how hard it can be to get all the required parts, but I'd probably be disinclined to run him through, say, Gnomeregan instead.

- People in the same guild, even if I haven't seen them before, and have no idea who recruited them or whose alt they are, are a lot more likely to get help from me. They're, after all, one of "us."

Etc.

Basically there are a lot of modifiers there which really all depend on how I see that guy, and how close he is to the "us" group, and not much on how I see myself in relation to him.

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 6 years ago | (#24961081)

Ah ha! You've successfully snuck a relatively good synopsis of TFA into your /. post! Well played, sir! (Disclaimer: If you're female, I'm sorry. You must be an extremely unhappy woman having a name like Bryan.)

Re:FITD vs DITF (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | about 6 years ago | (#24961127)

I don't think it should come as a surprise to anyone that people's racial biases are carried through to a virtual world from the real world. So in a sense, this whole article, aside from being informative about some interesting psychological tests and their results, is kind of one big 'no duh'.

I heard---sorry, I can't give you a reference, so mod me -1 Bad Scholar---about a very interesting psychological study. People are very good at post-hoc rationalizing, i.e. saying "well that's obvious", but if you ask them to predict the seemingly obvious outcomes of psychological studies, they do no better than chance.

It could have been that the characters in the virtual world were placed at the exact spot in the uncanny valley where we subconsciously cease seeing them as humans. So you can't a priori say with certainty what the outcome is.

Even if one can argue that this particular case is obvious, it's still good to have the hypothesis tested in a scholarly fashion---that is, with a good protocol, good evidence and good statistics.

There are lies, there are damned lies and there is anecdotal evidence :)

Money (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960455)

Does this same basis work with money too?

Re:Money (1)

FunkyRider (1128099) | about 6 years ago | (#24960713)

Damn I saw your post as: Does this same basis work with monkey too? Arrr those clever monkeys...

Pool's Closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960487)

Hey, all the /b/tards raiding Habbo in black suits and afros don't do anything to encourage racial discrimination. ;)

(Seriously.)

More? (5, Insightful)

mistersooreams (811324) | about 6 years ago | (#24960505)

A relatively interesting experiment, no doubt, but the article didn't answer a lot of obvious and relevant questions.

First, how big was the sample size? Everything is given as percentages and we all know how meaningless they can be if the number of people tested is small.

Second, what is the racial demographic of the users on There.com? There are plenty of parts of the world, e.g. Russia, where racism (in particular against black people) would not come as a surprise to anyone. If the demographic is primarily American or European then it would be slightly more surprising.

Third, and this is just curiosity, how many people actually complied with the first (totally unreasonable) request in the DITF experiment?

Re:More? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#24960593)

Another issue with this experiment is that it by nature can not be a double blind test. The racial bias of the researcher is going to be reflected. If the researcher acted slightly differently depending on the "skin" she wore, this would change the resulting reaction. It doesn't have to be conscious on the part of the researcher either.

Unless the number of both researchers and subjects was really high, I would say the value of this study is rather low, not to say insignificant.

Re:More? (1)

fractic (1178341) | about 6 years ago | (#24960779)

Another issue with this experiment is that it by nature can not be a double blind test.

Why couldn't it be double blind? Just have one researcher see only the textual communication and decide which questions to ask while another researcher actually controls the avatar.

Re:More? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#24961153)

That still wouldn't be double blind. The person directing the avatar might do it differently depending on what kind of skin the avatar wore, e.g. by how close the avatar was moved to the subject, how still you stand, and many other non-verbal factors.

One solution would be to hack the client and have it always display the same avatar to the controllers, while randomly showing a different one to people at the other end. And not disclosing the order until after all the runs.

Re:More? (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | about 6 years ago | (#24960711)

The article is posted online here [motives.com] .

To answer your questions:

1. There were 416 participants, which the study claims were interviewed at different times of day. About half of these were control, with about 100 participants for each of the techniques.

2. They do not have data on that. They did not collect demographic data on the individuals who participated, and in the article only note the average ages and gender-balance in the game overall. Nothing surprising there.

3. They didn't publish data on that, either. They did say that the compliance rate for the final request was about 55% for the control group, 75% for FITD, 80% for DITF for the white avatar, and 60% for DITF for the black avatar.

The only thing I found interesting is that they named the black guy Mike1111, which just looks like a lot of exclamation points without shift put down. I'd get annoyed at anyone with a name like that making requests at me. Josh7899 (the white guy) is a much more appealing name to me.

Re:More? (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | about 6 years ago | (#24960833)

And by "the article" I mean the journal article published by the study's authors, not the news article that covered it.

Re:More? (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | about 6 years ago | (#24960967)

Correcting myself on number three. I didn't read the footnotes.

"An additional 22 participants in the FITD condition (surprisingly) declined the small request and an additional 21 participants in the DITF condition (surprisingly) agreed to the large request. Also, 18 participants in the DITF condition declined the large request but teleported or exited before the experimenter could make the moderate request. These participants were not included in the total N reported above."

Trying not to spam...

Dark skinned avatar in a virtual world ? (3, Funny)

psergiu (67614) | about 6 years ago | (#24960511)

He just needed more /b/lackup in order to finish the experiment :)

Not necessarily racism (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 years ago | (#24960523)

I saw a TV program that demonstrated that people are more likely to help an injured jogger if he is wearing the same team's football shirt. It is not necessarily racist

tribe identity (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | about 6 years ago | (#24960555)

people are more likely to assume the good will of others if they are like themselves, being race, religion, sex, or nationality.

Of course extreme situations can change this behavior.

Re:Not necessarily racism (3, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | about 6 years ago | (#24960581)

please rephrase with cars. No one here understands this "jogging" or "football" you speak of.

no shit sherlock? (5, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 6 years ago | (#24960529)

According to a study [...] virtual world avatars respond to social cues in the same ways that people do in the real world.

Isn't that caused by the fact that those virtual world avatars are controlled by people in the real world?

Re:no shit sherlock? (1)

FunkyRider (1128099) | about 6 years ago | (#24960579)

you guess?

Re:no shit sherlock? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24961241)

they are indeed no less than totally encumbered by real world gestalt

Other virtual worlds give different results (5, Funny)

WDot (1286728) | about 6 years ago | (#24960543)

I have both light-skinned and dark-skinned characters in Guild Wars. I'd say I regularly get called a noob regardless of skin color. )=

Dark-skinned avatar? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 6 years ago | (#24960607)

I have seen more prejudice in that game towards, vampire/demon avatars and waaay more to furries than dark-skinned avatars.

People hate freaks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960857)

It really is that simple.

What falls under freak depends on the person. But some things most of us consider bizarre.

Re:People hate freaks. (0, Offtopic)

AioKits (1235070) | about 6 years ago | (#24960961)

Yeah, damned vampires and demons! I kid! Sides, I say this as a furry. Most the time it's not really prejudice, it's more like caution towards us. I'll be the first to admit, some of us look pretty odd, even by my standards. Some of us also act like total douches. Most of us are harmless though and tend to mimic /b/ way more than we care to admit. Enough of that talk tho. *sighs and dons target again* Sides, we developed into where we are now with tribal behaviors, it's not going to go away cause we have iPods and HD.

Re:People hate freaks. (1, Troll)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 6 years ago | (#24961211)

Yeah, damned vampires and demons! I kid! Sides, I say this as a furry. Most the time it's not really prejudice, it's more like caution towards us.

It's not caution. Furries should be gassed.

Re:People hate freaks. (1)

AioKits (1235070) | about 6 years ago | (#24961243)

It's not caution. Furries should be gassed.

If us, then every other freak should meet the same fate. I look forward to seeing you in line at the chambers comrade.

data interesting, conclusions iffy (4, Interesting)

seeker_1us (1203072) | about 6 years ago | (#24960625)

OK, so you make a small request, follow by a bigger one, to a stranger. No statistical difference in response depending on whether you are in a light or dark skinned avitar.

You make a stupidly large request, followed by a reasonable one, to a stranger. There is a statistical difference in response depending on whether you are in a light or dark skinned avitar.

Researchers conclude that in first case it's because it's how you view yourself and second case it's how you view others and there is racial prejudice. Sounds like psychobabble to me.

Couldn't it be more like, "wow this stranger made a request that would take 2 hours of my time, then asked for 2 minutes... hmmm do I (consciously or subconsciously) find their avitar attractive enough to risk wasting time with a potential nutjob?"

TFA doesn't say who the target audience is, but I'm guessing mostly light skined avitar ppl who might just have a statistically higher attraction to ppl of lighter skins. What if they tried this test using ugly light skinned avitars and @#$%ing hot dark skinned avitars? I think they would have to rethink their conclusions.

Re:data interesting, conclusions iffy (1)

zentinal (602572) | about 6 years ago | (#24960977)

You're close to making an interesting point. We really do need to know what the avatars looked like. We don't even know the avatar's projected gender. A screen shot would have sufficed to satisfy this point. We have to assume that the only thing changed in the experiment was the avatar's skin color. Did the researchers in any way modify the avatar's basic appearance (muscularity, voluptuousness, height, width, clothing) to craft a particularly beautiful (or particularly ugly) avatar, and then modify the skin tone for the experiment, or did they just modify the skin color of the generic avatar?

In WOW... (5, Funny)

vjmurphy (190266) | about 6 years ago | (#24960635)

Instead of the Foot-In-The-Door experiment or Door-In-The-Face experiment, you have the Gank-the-N00b experiment and the Give-Gold-And-Items-to-Hot-Female-Night-Elves-Who-Are-Really-Men experiments.

In CS... (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | about 6 years ago | (#24961205)

While I expect your post had no other purpose than to be funny, what you propose is certainly research-worthy.

If an individual has racist tendencies I would have thought it a natural extension for them to have racist tendencies in a virtual world. However, it is not so clear that people would treat the opposite gender the same in a virtual world. There's no visual cues, no (or extremely little) chance of getting in bed with the other person. There's no pheromones to screw with you, no visual/physical distractions.

Also, in a game of Counter Strike when I'm short on cash and I need someone to buy me an AK or M4, I change my handle to "Flowerpower22" and the problem takes care of itself.

I'd be interested in seeing an actual scientific study into this.

ORLY? (1)

Clairvoyant (137586) | about 6 years ago | (#24960643)

They respond in the same way as they would in real life? It's almost as if there are real people behind these avatars...

But was it like real life? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960647)

Did the niggers break down the door and rape your wife and daughter more often than the good ol' boys?

Oh..those worlds (1)

LarsWestergren (9033) | about 6 years ago | (#24960679)

I thought they were going to discuss how Trolls are depicted in World of Warcraft. :)

Re:Oh..those worlds (1)

genner (694963) | about 6 years ago | (#24960971)

I thought they were going to discuss how Trolls are depicted in World of Warcraft. :)

Trolls are fine.
It's those bloody Elves that cause problems.

Okay, but what about... (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 6 years ago | (#24960685)

While results of the FITD experiment revealed no racial bias, the effect of the DITF technique was significantly reduced when the experimenter took the form of a dark-skinned avatar.

Okay, black vs white. Easy enough. It makes sense that people's IRL biases would carry over to the online world - You can see that clearly enough with gender, where having an even remotely female-sounding name results in far more attention (sometimes unwanted) and deferential behavior than a neutral or male name.

But what about anthropomorphic animal avatars (furries)? What about blue-skinned humanoids? What about amorphous purple blobs? This study had the potential to reveal so much more, yet they limited it to merely demonstrating online what we already knew from the real world. Pity.

Sometimes, the stereotype is true (1)

bugeaterr (836984) | about 6 years ago | (#24960687)

I'll just come out and say it:
Gnomes have bigger feet (and that's not all) than Night Elves.
Fine, fine, call me a racist, but you KNOW it's true.

Where's the GNAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960695)

Haven't seen the GNAA chime in yet. Asleep at the racist wheel? Hobophobia 101 class? Hangover?

usual psych incompleteness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24960733)

1. It's based on making assumptions about why people react as they do in DITF vs FITD. Although it's an obvious negotiation technique - whenever a politician asks for something insane it's because they're about to try to get you to accept something less bad that you wouldn't have accepted otherwise - the motivations from their and your point of view are not what this experiment assumes.

2. Every "blind test" - and this is where most psychologists fuck up vs real medical professionals - is:

(a) Only as blind as you can sound convincing - if someone random came up to me and made weird requests of me, I'd certainly assume something fishy was going on and one thing that'd cross my mind (especially as someone who knows a few psych undergrads) is "is this some sort of test?"

(b) Not double-blind! The tester is aware of what he's doing and what colour he's pretending to be. Is the tester's behaviour any different?

3. Real skin colour is not like virutal world skin colour. If someone came up to me wearing a burka I'd be hard pressed not to notice this choice, just as it's a choice to be black, white or alien in a virtual world. This is not just because of some wild prejudice, but because e.g. in the burka case I know there are certain things it would be disrespectful to do - e.g. offer to shake hands. If someone has chosen to be black, or a woman, or a furry, that's entirely different from their being born one.

4. Moreover, what is the default selection? Is it more effort to choose a black face to a white in the virtual world? If the default avatar is a short-haired white preppy look and 80% of virtual people look like that, while 80% of people IRL don't look like that, then there is a reason beyond "because they're black IRL" for why they've chosen not to look short haired and preppy.

Some initial thoughts.

GNAA? (1)

Big Nothing (229456) | about 6 years ago | (#24960735)

Finally (?) a topic where the GNAA trolls aren't 100% off-topic.

Re:GNAA? (1)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | about 6 years ago | (#24960965)

The Georgia Nurses Adjunct Association?

What about the User's Avatar? (4, Interesting)

FishAdmin (1288708) | about 6 years ago | (#24960769)

That's where my curiosity lies. If they're taking the time to do this, it's all fine and dandy that they can say white avatars get 20% compliance for DITF, whereas black avatars get only 8%; however, I think it's important to note the color of the User's avatar, as well as the gender. Were User's with white avatar's MORE or LESS biased against black avatars? What about User's with black avatar's? How about User's with a female avatar? Were they more likely to give compliance, or less? Were the researcher's Avatars always male, or did they use equal white/black/male/female? I would guess that any female avatar would be more likely to get compliance, as men are still chivalrous, for the most part, and will comply with a woman when they wouldn't with a man. I think that this would have been important to note. In our world, racial/gender bias can be presumed to exist without much difficulty; we all know it's there. However, I think it would very interesting to see whether it was a cross-cultural or cross-gender phenomenon, and not just that it exists. Also, I've known just as many black people that were more suspicious of a black man than of a white man! Normally that has come from those that grew up in, shall we say, less-than-upscale areas, and who have dealt with bad male role models, etc. I think the experiment was interesting, but pointless without more depth. Proving the existence of racial bias, even VIRTUAL racial bias, is a lot like trying to prove that the majority of people enjoy sex. It's more of a "No, really?!"

There.com (1)

ITman75 (671124) | about 6 years ago | (#24960773)

I play there.com and i see this as being very flawed experiment. First off, It does not take 2 hours to teleport to 50 landmarks with in the game. Second, one of the places that they mentioned Duda Beach is an overcrowed section of land with to many personal area zones that have many animated items that cause alot of lag so of course people will not want to teleport to that location. I wounder where they were going for those 50 locations. Did they actually check out those sections first? How long have they actually played within there to experiance the virtual world before they started their experiment. Who were they asking...People that have been in game for more than 2 years or new avatars that are less than 6 months old?

FITD? DITF? OMG! WTF? (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | about 6 years ago | (#24960859)

Personally, I'm not willing to draw any conclusions until I see the results of the FITF (foot-in-the-face) or even better, BTTH (boot-to-the-head) experiments.

Third experiment discontinued (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 6 years ago | (#24960873)

Unfortunately, the random "foot in the face" (FITF) experiments were cut short by a class-action lawsuit.

Funny wording about avatars (4, Insightful)

Maria D (264552) | about 6 years ago | (#24960901)

"virtual world avatars respond to social cues in the same ways that people do in the real world"

This phrase made me lol. Though I understand it's a metonymy, I choose to nitpick this fine morning, so there.

Avatars can't respond to anything, being representations. But people respond to representations in much the same ways as to the represented. So, to fix the phrase: "People respond to representations of social cues through avatars in virtual worlds in the same ways people respond to social cues." The claim has this "duh" quality. There is a reason those things are called "representations": they represent something for humans. We react to a video, a story or a picture of a love scene or a murder scene in ways similar to our reactions to the real thing, if weaker. All culture, from casual conversations (word representations) to art in any media is based on that premise. Why would the Second Life be any different?

Isn't it obvious? (2, Interesting)

eebra82 (907996) | about 6 years ago | (#24960929)

Racism is obviously not limited to the real world. It becomes clear if you read forum threads, play World of WarCraft, chess with avatars on Yahoo and whatnot. Our picture of a black or white dude doesn't change just because we enter a virtual world. After all, that's exactly why movies use shady-looking guys as villains, because we all know what that guy looks like. If we met this person in real life, we would - at least subconsciously - perceive him as a less-than-good person because of what he or she looks like.

The Pool is Closed. (2, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | about 6 years ago | (#24961043)

While results of the FITD experiment revealed no racial bias, the effect of the DITF technique was significantly reduced when the experimenter took the form of a dark-skinned avatar.

They never saw a good /b/ raid in Habbo.

ITA: TRUTH (1)

CautionaryX (1061226) | about 6 years ago | (#24961183)

Seriously, I create a suit wearing African American with an afro in Habbo Hotel and I get banned instantly... WTF DID I DO?

Why do they call you "Dirty Harry"? (3, Funny)

shplorb (24647) | about 6 years ago | (#24961197)

De Georgio: "Ah that's one thing about our Harry, doesn't play any favorites! Harry hates everybody: Limeys, Micks, Hebes, Fat Dagos, Niggers, Honkies, Chinks, you name it."

Gonzales: "How does he feel about Mexicans?"

De Georgio: "Ask him."

Harry: "Especially Spics."

!new (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 6 years ago | (#24961219)

humans are hardwired to hate humans different from thenselves, no new news on this

Hmm (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | about 6 years ago | (#24961247)

i'd like to see this experiment conducted in my beloved PlanetSide. Most of the time the avatar's skin isn't visible. It's also purely PvP, so it's very us against them. Meaning, either you are an ally, or you are an enemy. There are no AIs. People of the same empire are either too busy to help or they are helpful. If i heal so and so, he can rejoin the fight sooner. If you're not of my empire you are walking XP... or a threat to my mission (so i turn on Sensor Shield, crouch and wait for you to leave).

Within an empire, there are many outfits (guilds). Most of the time, they get along, but there are rivalries and outfits with dubious leaders. Most of the time, between individuals, such affiliations are less important than the greater imperial affiliation.

In Real Life (tm), people are more likely to be helpful to people who are important (looking) or are attractive. It's not always about race or tribalism, and not even always about sex. Good looking guys of equal talent get better raises and faster promotions than average looking guys (even if guys are deciding who gets what). Nature is advancing the desirable traits.

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