Building an Antiracist Society

Racial Inequality in Psychological Research: Trends of the Past and Recommendations for the Future 

06-29-2020 20:18

Racial Inequality in Psychological Research: Trends of the Past and Recommendations for the Future

Steven O. Roberts , Carmelle Bareket-Shavit ,
Forrest A. Dollins, Peter D. Goldie, and Elizabeth Mortenson
Department of Psychology, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University

Race plays an important role in how people think, develop, and behave. In the current article, we queried more than
26,000 empirical articles published between 1974 and 2018 in top-tier cognitive, developmental, and social psychology
journals to document how often psychological research acknowledges this reality and to examine whether people
who edit, write, and participate in the research are systematically connected. We note several findings. First, across the
past five decades, psychological publications that highlight race have been rare, and although they have increased in
developmental and social psychology, they have remained virtually nonexistent in cognitive psychology. Second, most
publications have been edited by White editors, under which there have been significantly fewer publications that
highlight race. Third, many of the publications that highlight race have been written by White authors who employed
significantly fewer participants of color. In many cases, we document variation as a function of area and decade. We
argue that systemic inequality exists within psychological research and that systemic changes are needed to ensure that
psychological research benefits from diversity in editing, writing, and participation. To this end, and in the spirit of the
field’s recent emphasis on metascience, we offer recommendations for journals and authors.

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