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Video: Scientific accounts of intergroup differences Patterns promises and perils

Mon, 25 September 17 15:19

In a lunchtime seminar for the school Dr. Cliódhna O'Connor looks at how naturalistic accounts of intergroup differences are powerful rhetorical resources that can be mobilised to many different purposes. [Video]

Responsible science needs awareness of these feedback loops
- Potential appropriations of research
- Scientists’ own values and interests

Study 1: Neuroscience coverage in the UK press
Key media trend: Use of neuroscience to splice population into distinct categorical divisions

Very wide range of social categories reconstituted as neurobiological ‘kinds’

Reproduced established cultural stereotypes and intergroup divisions

Study 2: Case study of sex difference research
Scientific research on sex difference reproduces cultural understandings of gender In both popular and scientific accounts

Press release a ‘point of no return’

Dominant interpretation = ‘equal but different’
Sexual animosity present in comments, but infrequent

Used to validate existing stereotypes
Benevolent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1996)

Study 3: Biological attributions and sexual inequalities
Biological attributions arise spontaneously in debate about marriage equality
More prominent in anti-SSM discourse

Appeals to nature used to assert intrinsic and pragmatic superiority of heterosexual relationships
Biological attributions for homosexuality less prominent despite being main focus of experimental literature