Sensitivity/Diversity Training Doesn’t Change Attitudes

Seattle conducts diversity training for its white employees. Available evidence tells us that it will not change the attitudes of the people enrolled.

One study reaching that conclusion is Dobbin, Frank, and Alexandra Kalev. “Why diversity programs fail: and what works better.” Harvard Business Review 94.7-8 (2016).

Another study reaching that conclusion is Lai et al. “Reducing Implicit Racial Preferences: II. Intervention Effectiveness Across Time.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General © 2016 American Psychological Association 2016, Vol. 145, No. 8, 1001–1016.

A more recent study with similar negative results is Chang, et al. “The mixed effects of online diversity training.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, (PNAS) April 16, 2019 116 (16) 7778-7783. See also this summary.

Experimental psychologists have been trying hard for years to find ways to alter people’s attitudes, preferences and behavior with respect to race, gender, multiculturalism, stereotypes, egalitarian values, affirmative action, religion, caste, and biases. As their failures in diversity training suggest, they haven’t succeeded.

People’s attitudes and preferences show at best a highly transitory change (not even a few days) as a result of training. This failure is consistent with evidence that infants form social group preferences in their first year and that preferences in three-year olds remain stable as they develop further. To put it bluntly, God didn’t create a race of wimps whose bases for behavior are highly malleable and manipulable.

On a continuing basis, Americans are being exposed to a mass experiment in diversity training. It revolves around charges of systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial oppression. White people are accused of being complicit in a mass crime; they are being told that they must be held accountable to “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color”. They are being told that capitalism is wrong and socialism is right, that the family is wrong, that policing is wrong, and that America is wrong. Some of this sounds like Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

But if people’s preferences are rather impervious to such hectoring, this experiment is going to fail. There will be chaos, but it will fail just as CHAZ/CHOP failed. Americans are not going to change their preferences, attitudes and beliefs in the directions that BLM and antifa want or insist upon or demand. People do not change under such pressures. Pulling down statues will prove to be futile. If anything, as in diversity training, these efforts and methods will backfire.

BLM’s and antifa’s methods won’t work, but they also are building their activities on an untenable foundation. The American system is not built upon oppression by race, as they suppose. America was not built upon slavery, as they suppose. America was not built upon patriarchal oppression, as they suppose. There is therefore nothing in the first place to dismantle or uproot from these distorted perspectives.


12:26 pm on July 8, 2020