Racial Bias in Sport Medical Staff's Perceptions of Others' Pain (WP-17-08)


James Druckman, Sophie Trawalter, Ivonne Montes, Alexandria Fredendall, Noah Kanter, Allison Rubenstein

Racial disparities in higher education and healthcare have a long history and are well documented. In the present work, the researchers examine racial bias at the intersection of these domains: racial bias in pain-related perceptions among National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 sport medical staff. Using experimental vignettes about a student-athlete who injured his/her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), they find, like prior work, that respondents perceived Black (vs. White) targets as having higher initial pain tolerance. Moreover, this bias was mediated by perceptions of social class. The researchers extend prior work by showing racial bias was not evident on other outcome measures including perception of recovery process pain, likelihood of over-reporting pain, and over-use of drugs to combat pain. This suggests stricter boundary conditions on bias in pain perceptions than had been previously recognized.

James Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

Sophie Trawalter, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Psychology, University of Virginia

Ivonne Montes, Research Assistant, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Alexandria Fredendall, Undergraduate, Northwestern University

Noah Kanter, Undergraduate, Dartmouth College

Allison Rubenstein, Undergraduate, Northwestern University

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