Psych-Out 2

Own-race bias:

Psychology’s Definition: Tendency for people to have difficulty identifying people of another race; the tendency for people to more accurately recognize faces of their own

My Definition: When you believe that individuals of a race other than your own, especially a race foreign to you, look alike, and thus, you have trouble telling people apart. You find it easy identifying physical differences between members of your own race or another race you are very familiar with.

My own personal bias is in favor of Caucasians and Southeast Asians. I grew up in a small town, exposed to many white people. I also was raised by my Chinese mother’s family. Because of where I was raised, I often have trouble identifying differences in South Asians, Latinos, and sometimes Africans.

How are white people biased? We tend to primarily use hair (style, color, length, etc.); non-white races often have the same hair color within their race.

Cameroonians are always changing their hair. Additionally, children must keep their heads shaved for school. Sometimes I can’t even tell the difference between boy and girl, which is funny because gender barriers are so strong here. Good thing I’m decent with names.

Cameroonians are biased, too. Many who are not exposed to westerners think all white people look alike, and that they must be related to one another. In the rare event that another white person is spotted in my village, my Cameroonian friends encourage me to go say hello; we must know each other. I refuse, and the white person does not approach me, either. As the only white person around, they only know me but don’t understand why I can’t remember every person I meet.

Walking to the football field with my nine-year-old neighbor Angela, we saw a boy running on the other side of the field. I could barely make out what he was wearing, let alone identify if it was even a boy we were seeing. Angela said, “That’s Joel!” I asked her how she knew it was her 11-year-old brother, and she just shrugged. She called his name and he turned and came over to us. I guess she just knows how her brother runs. Or has much better vision than I do. Probably both.

*More “Psych-Out”s to come! Hey, psychology is what I know… And yes, that is a reference to the (awesome) television show “Psych”. God, I miss television. And electricity.


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