Politically incorrect paper of the day, installment #6739

by on March 30, 2016 at 2:27 pm in Economics, Education, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Permalink

This one is about the power of the individual, the authors are Makan Amini, Mathias Ekström, Tore Ellingsen, Magnus Johannesson, and Fredrik Strömsten:

Failure to express minority views may distort the behavior of company boards, committees, juries, and other decision-making bodies. Devising a new experimental procedure to measure such conformity in a judgment task, we compare the degree of conformity in groups with varying gender composition. Overall, our experiments offer little evidence that gender composition affects expression of minority views. A robust finding is that a subject’s lack of ability predicts both a true propensity to accept others’ judgment (informational social influence) and a propensity to agree despite private doubt (normative social influence). Thus, as an antidote to conformity in our experiments, high individual ability seems more effective than group diversity.

The co-editor on the paper was John List, a paragon of both innovation and self-criticism, but perhaps we need to ask a diverse focus group instead…


For the pointer I thank the excellent Kevin Lewis.

1 anon March 30, 2016 at 2:41 pm

This is in line with Tetlock, but I think he says he’d rather have somewhat high ability and diversity than very high and too much uniformity.

IOW this is only anti PC if one believes the optimum cannot be achieved.

2 So Much For Subtlety March 30, 2016 at 6:42 pm

I think he says he’d rather have somewhat high ability and diversity than very high and too much uniformity.

Yes but we need to know what his real position is. We will have to wait until he has skin in the game. Perhaps if he has a heart attack he will insist that he would prefer a less skilled surgical team that ticks all the right diversity boxes. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Personally I wouldn’t think that the step down is from “somewhat high ability”. I would think the difference is actually very large indeed. Sometimes that won’t matter. Sometimes it will. I think computer programming is one of those areas where it does matter. Heart surgery may not be.

However I also doubt the premise of the argument. Breakthroughs seem to come from non-diverse settings. Presumably because communication is easier if everyone is on the same page and not walking on egg shells in case they upset anyone. A place that employs Elizabeth Warren as their diversity hire is probably very good.

3 Adrian Ratnapala March 30, 2016 at 10:41 pm

Note that this is about “decision making bodies”, not teams that are trying to get stuff done.

Consider a jury. Reasonable people can have different but reasonable interpretations of the evidence. And even highly capable people might get carried away by some particular aspect or the other. That’s why the system tries to get 12 different viewpoints.

This is very different from a surgical team. Two different surgeons might have different idiosyncratic ways of doing things. Those ways might be equally good: but whichever doctor is working on you needs to make his own method work.

4 tjamesjones April 1, 2016 at 9:33 am

well, not really: the definition of “highly capable” that is used here is that highly capable people have the ability to take on different points of view. You don’t need some sort of demographic diversity, you need highly capable people. That might leave an argument for saying diversity is useful if the people aren’t very capable.

5 IVV March 30, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Deep down, this is the real reason why I prefer more education for more people. It also suggests that less education overall in a society enables the conformity of the society.

6 Horhe March 30, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Because ideological conformity is not being enforced on US campuses at all. I agree with you on the importance of education, but we’ve paired that with some pretty unwholesome and dangerous indoctrination and the chickens are coming home to roost.

7 Thor March 30, 2016 at 3:37 pm


Everyone should read “Galileo’s Middle Finger”.

8 Jan March 30, 2016 at 3:45 pm

What’s the evidence that ideological uniformity is being “enforced”, and that there is “unwholesome and dangerous indoctrination”?

I mean that seriously. I see conservative finger wagging and angry complaints like this all the time, but what is the research? And yes I have seen the studies on political leanings of university faculty, but that is not the equivalent of what you say above.

9 y81 March 30, 2016 at 3:49 pm
10 Jan March 30, 2016 at 6:43 pm

I see lots of free speech, due process and other cases and anecdotes on here, which cover a wide range of issues, but no research suggesting that enforcement of ideological conformity (and what ideology exactly) is somehow a systemic problem across campuses. Maybe I missed it? With the enterprise of higher education involving literally tens of millions of students, faculty, administrators and other staff, it would be weird if there weren’t anecdotes.

11 anon March 30, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Gee I wonder why there aren’t academics conducting research on the subject.

12 Cliff March 30, 2016 at 3:49 pm

What kind of research would you propose to conduct on the topic? Do you think it is possible to have a faculty that is uniformly left-wing, and in fact radically left-wing, and is shown to practice political discrimination against new faculty hires, without any indoctrination or viewpoint enforcement among the student body?

13 Todd Kreider March 30, 2016 at 4:35 pm

I can’t believe the ignorance of those who post here. There have been *many* such studies over the past two decades and *none* show any hiring bias whatsoever.

14 albatross March 30, 2016 at 5:03 pm

{citation needed}

15 Todd Kreider March 30, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Of course I want to cite the hundreds of studies, but they are unfortunately all behind a pay wall.

16 Cliff March 30, 2016 at 11:17 pm
17 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 1:23 am

As I’ve mentioned before, given the staunch anti-intellectualism in certain segments of the right wing, partially in relation to evolution, AGW and more broadly the fields of history and social sciences in general, it should not be surprising that academics tend to prefer Democrats.

Also, I highlight that establishment Democrats are not particularly left wing, and so it is incorrect to assume that a larger number of Democrat self-identification in academia itself constitutes particularly relevant information about left/right bias.

A useful type of survey question might be something like “if raising an unpopular perspective of the left/right [be specific], do you face strong argumentation or something more trending towards hate and harassment in response to your argumentation.”

It is not sufficeint that left wing perspectives are more common on campus. Or, shall we coddle the right on campus, give them their own safe spaces, and insist that everyone must be ultra nice in arguing about things that they disagree with?

Also, I propose that in fields like history and sociology, a lot of “right wing” perspectives are simply not teneable from an intellectual/academic perspective. In the case of history, often, something along the lines of “colonialism doesn’t matter in understanding history or the present” or in the case of other social sciences, views driven by sloganeering such as in relation to “tough on crime”, the “war on drugs” or very simplistic views of how people should be understood and treated which seem to be essentially driven by Biblical views on morality and the view that people should be beaten down into adherence to social norms (perhaps via the law) without consideration of our more complex psychology. While I certainly would not like to generalize this to the right, and am aware of certain types of simplistic thinking on the left, it should not be surprising that individuals who promote such lines of thinking face ridicule on campus – they are not engaging in intellectual exercises, they are parroting slogans or argumentation which basically mirrors views which drove policies that have already been demonstrated to usually fail.

18 kimock March 31, 2016 at 1:45 am


See http://heterodoxacademy.org/

If I recall correctly, 83% of respondents in a survey of US academics *admitted* that they discriminated against conservatives. The true number is likely higher. I am politically left of center, and consider this to be a serious problem.

Please provide references to a few of those *many* studies that find not bias.

19 Anon. March 31, 2016 at 2:06 pm

“Anti-intellectualism” is the anticlericalism of the 21st century.

20 jorod March 30, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Are you living under a rock?

21 Hazel Meade March 30, 2016 at 4:41 pm

You assuming that education directly translates into ability.
I don’t think that is necessarily the case at all.

As has been thoroughly discussed elsewhere, if education is mostly social signalling, then it has little if any relationship to ability. So education will just create more low-ability high credentialed individuals in these groups. I doubt that will do much to decrease conformity.

What we need are smarter people.

22 IVV March 30, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Depends on the education. Education might not make a person smarter, but a lack of education can keep smart people from figuring out how to think for themselves.

But I agree, we don’t need more degrees, we need more people worthy of degrees.

23 Hazel Meade March 30, 2016 at 5:21 pm

but a lack of education can keep smart people from figuring out how to think for themselves

Depends on the education.

24 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 1:35 am

Presumably “smart” is something reflecting inborn abilities (and also to a decent degree reflecting their early years development and quality of earlier schooling). A smart person should be able to massively expand their abilities and breadth of knowledge in the course of a quality education.

25 tjamesjones April 1, 2016 at 9:45 am

yes great idea, let’s educate the smart people, that’s a novel idea.

26 Milo Minderbinder March 30, 2016 at 7:34 pm

What we need are smarter people

That’s why need to import more low-IQ third worlders.

27 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 1:41 am

They can be educated, and will score more highly on standardized tests as a result. However, it may be preferred to import those who have already attained such an education, in an essentially zero sum game where we take skilled/educated workers away from other economies.

28 D March 30, 2016 at 3:01 pm

So ability trumps diversity, an obvious no-brainer to anyone who hasn’t been brainwashed.

Will this affect open borders advocates? Does ANYTHING empirical affect open borders advocates?

29 Kevin Erdmann March 30, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Is diversity an important element to most open borders advocates?

30 D March 30, 2016 at 3:32 pm

It’s a known consequence.

31 delurking March 30, 2016 at 4:58 pm

So? Most intelligent arguments for open borders that I have seen do not list diversity as one of the reasons for open borders.

Do you believe that since ability is more important than diversity, that therefore diversity is detrimental? That would be the most obvious inference from your retort.

32 Cliff March 30, 2016 at 11:18 pm

You don’t think it provides support for a points-based system like Canada or Australia?

33 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 1:47 am

Canada’s and Australia’s points-based systems result in more immigrant diversity than most immigration systems.

34 BC March 30, 2016 at 10:56 pm

Why would we think that markets favor diversity over ability in allocating housing and jobs or at least that they would do so more than government? Most diversity efforts arise from wanting to over-ride market outcomes.

35 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 1:45 am

If oyu get the 100 most talented pro-neoliberal economists in the same room, will the ensuing policy proposals be higher quality than a diverse room which includes the 1st, 51st and 101st most talented of a large diversity of views?

Why should the same not apply to other things? We’re not talking front-line implementers here, we’re talking decision makers.

36 huh? March 30, 2016 at 3:29 pm

To the left, conformity is a feature. Not a bug. Thus this paper may not be politically correct.

37 Horhe March 30, 2016 at 3:37 pm

Is this the beginning of the end for PC and the red brigades?

38 anon March 30, 2016 at 3:42 pm

A bit funny. A couple guys who think they are defending diversity when they fault an entire side of human thought.

A moderate, not enforcing uniformity, might approach it differently.

39 Cliff March 30, 2016 at 3:51 pm

I think it is possible to defend the right of leftists to exist and express their viewpoints, while viciously attacking their viewpoints as wrongheaded

40 anon March 30, 2016 at 4:21 pm

A moderate can name areas of agreement with left and right, areas of discussion that only stop at hard right or hard left, where inflexible zealotry begins on both sides.

Of course this being 2016 I can’t say this represents equivalence.

You hit zealotry sooner on one side, in the Party of Trump.

41 Cliff March 30, 2016 at 11:18 pm

So says you

42 huh? March 30, 2016 at 4:54 pm

A bit hard to discuss politics without in some way faulting “an entire side of human thought.”

Pro-slavery politics were once well represented in the US. Would it have been an attack on diversity to fault the slavers as well?

43 anon March 30, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Can you see the shift you made, from a style of thought to a single (though important) issue?

Were slavers neatly of one political bent?

44 huh? March 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm

“The left” is not merely anyone left of center.

45 anon March 30, 2016 at 5:05 pm

I fear that the left is “bad people” for you, and that is where “slavers” sprang from.

46 huh? March 30, 2016 at 5:30 pm

I’ll be patient with this since you seem to be arguing in good faith.

Pro slavery policies were both widely popular and, hopefully you and I agree, detrimental to many aspects of society. Thus, in the year 1820, one could both fault an entire side of human thought AND promote diversity by criticizing slavery.

Likewise with Fascism in certain parts of 1930’s Europe. Or with Communism in other parts of the world at other times.

Furthermore, look closer at the comments with which you disagree. One person mentions “the left” – sure, that can mean different things to different people. Fine. The other mentions “PC” and the “red brigades”. Cowen’s original post contains a painting of Mao. To immediately fault us for failing to recognize “moderates” seems a bit much.

47 Horhe March 31, 2016 at 8:28 pm

I think the whole point of the debate is that only one side can enforce its preference and it does so with gusto. The other side reacts however it can. Anonymous comments online are the best most of us manage. Dissent does not equal faulting the entire side of human thought and I find it to be a bit cheeky that those few concepts I feel have taken a disturbing turn are somehow a whooooole side of human thought. This is what happens when you are undergoing a perpetual revolution – the past isn’t worth a thing if it can’t conform to anachronistic standards. That’s why your preferred brand of liberalism, progressivism or whatever is the entire side of human thought, not a freaky sideshow. We should be more cognizant of the power of framing discussions. And, yes, I do support your right to argue and support your positions.

48 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 1:48 am

Right, and that’s why the left praises diversity and the right hates diversity. Because the left sees conformity as a feature. OK.

49 Horhe March 31, 2016 at 8:35 pm

Look at what people do, not what they say or claim to do. Was the West unable to organize debates until they got someone who was of a different color in the room? Intellectual and ideological diversity does not require ethnic and religious diversity. It requires free inquiry and respectable debate between respectable people who will still respect each other afterwards. You could have that with a diverse society, but not if the way to reaching that diverse society requires (or compels) that you suppress free inquiry and debate in the first place for fear that your plans will be blocked by nativist wreckers who keep posting stuff on Facebook.

50 MC March 30, 2016 at 3:38 pm

So make sure you have at least 1 Henry Fonda on the jury.

51 Mark Thorson March 30, 2016 at 6:19 pm

And if you need a little help on how to do that, look here:



52 hellokitty March 30, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Krugman was actually kind of interesting before he became a lying leftist fanatic attack dog.

53 mlegower March 30, 2016 at 4:14 pm

I think you mean that List was the co-editor, not the referee… As far as I know, Management Science has a blinded referee process like most journals?

54 whatsthat March 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm

to test these ideas you need to go back at least 30 years in time.

My aunt, who had a very good academic career and is highly respected internationally, is from a developing country where let’s say the participation of women particularly in academics is very very low. Numerous visits to non-metropolitan cities taught her to just use the men’s room because the women’s either didn’t exist or was used to store supplies.

I have seen too much blatant discrimination that is not even recognized as such to believe this result.

55 Cliff March 30, 2016 at 11:20 pm

I don’t see what the relevance of your anecdote is

56 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 1:53 am

That explicitly promoting gender diversity should be seen as desirable in at least some circumstances. A lot of the editing/translation work I do involves an organization which highly favours applications with at least one woman on the research team (ideally head researcher, but that’s basically impossible for most cases due to the history of gender discrimination in developing countries).

Unleash the talents of the other 50% of the population. That’s a good thing.

57 TMC March 31, 2016 at 10:24 am

The example is not about diversity though. His Aunt was clearly qualified and I see no evidence that her being a woman added anything to the qualification.

Personally, like most conservatives, I don’t care if you are male or female, black or white, just that you are qualified for your position. A group may end up being 99% male or 99% female and that does not bother me the least bit unless someone qualified was excluded because of race or gender. Race or gender is not a qualification in itself.

58 Hazel Meade March 30, 2016 at 4:32 pm

This really challenges the orthodoxy about ethnic, racial, and gender diversity on campus being a source of intellectual diversity. One of the main arguments for quota systems for affirmative action in college admissions has been the idea that by promoting ethnic, racial and gender diversity of the student body, the academy creates a more stimulating and varied intellectual atmosphere. That argument now seems to be crashing and burning in all sorts of ways and this paper adds fuel to the fire. It is now pretty clear that social justice activism which has accompanied the diversity agenda has actually had a negative effect on intellectual diversity, what with all the demands for space spaces and punishment of supposed microaggressions. Now this shows that it is likely that admitting the most qualified grads regardless of race will actually increase intellectual diversity more than trying to create an ethnically diverse student body.

59 anon March 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm

It totally depends on how low you think you have to go to get diversity.

At one point people believed there were not enough capable women …

60 Hazel Meade March 30, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Well, if you try to be scrupulously fair in your admissions, you should get diversity proportionally with actual ability. Affirmative action doesn’t necessarily only come in quota flavors. It’s the insistence on admitting X% racial group Y that forces you to sometimes admit demonstrably lower ability candidates.
Or you could just be upfront and say you want to promote diversity to correct historical injustices. Just don’t try to claim it’s going to make your campus more intellectually diverse.

61 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 1:57 am

For most fields, I think the argument that intellectual diversity will result are fairly weak. But I think the few of addressing historical injustices is not without merit. However, I do not tend to support affirmative action (not strongly against it), and prefer other strategies.

62 So Much For Subtlety March 30, 2016 at 6:31 pm

At one point people believed there were not enough capable women …

Were they wrong?

How is Yahoo doing these days?

63 Cliff March 30, 2016 at 11:21 pm

Not enough capable women for what?

I hardly think one data point is a good argument here

64 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 7:01 am

What might a man have done differently?

65 derek March 30, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Are there any Maoists that comment here? We need more diversity!

66 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 7:02 am

If we had a quasi-feudal peasant class we might.

67 Horhe March 31, 2016 at 8:38 pm

One would have to take a measure of responsibility for the peasants in order to have that, if only to claim them as your serfs. No, your quasi-feudal peasant class is hired on a daily basis and returns to the hardware store parking lot every morning. A new master every day or every season. The desire seems to be that the former American yeoman class (to keep the trend in naming) join them in that parking lot.

68 Chip March 30, 2016 at 4:50 pm

The diversity argument would have some weight if it referred to diversity of ideas and behaviour, rather than superficial characteristics like race and gender.

I’m starting to think the social justice movement is just The Modern World for Dummies. The world is complex, fast changing, and so many people weaving through our lives need to be assessed individually before we make a judgement.

It’s too much work for some, especially if they have poor impulse control. Easier to just lump everyone into races, sexes and classes.

The SJWs are really just reactionaries. It’s all been done before.

69 anon March 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm

If there are qualified people, an arbitrary diversity is harmless.

The crack in this argument is that “superficial characteristics like race and gender” preclude ability.

It is a trap 😁

70 Steve Sailer March 30, 2016 at 6:44 pm

An example: The commission looking into the Challenger shuttle explosion in 1986 was supposed to be a cover-up, but some engineers who knew what really had gone wrong got to Richard Feynman and convinced him to drop an O-ring into a glass of ice water on national TV. This bankrupted Morton-Thiokol.

Somehow, I don’t think that would have happened if Feynman’s seat on the commission had been given to, say, Condi Rice in the name of diversity.

71 Steve Sailer March 30, 2016 at 6:51 pm
72 anon March 30, 2016 at 7:05 pm

You are such a weirdo. All apparatchiks are self selecting for a compliance. Why on earth would you think Condi alone stands at odds to an academic physicist? Oh, I know.

73 So Much For Subtlety March 30, 2016 at 7:27 pm

I am not sure I agree with SS on this. Condi might well have been willing to speak out. After all, what mattered here was not race or gender but employment history. A lot of decent people sat on that committee – Neil Armstrong and Chuck Yeager for instance – but only Feynman, who had a perfectly good tenured job to go back to, was willing to make waves. To the point that he refused to sign off on the report unless they included his dissent.

Condi could have done that. But I think that the engineers would have been foolish to trust her. She was not an engineer. They did not know her. They would be putting their careers in her hands. So they probably wouldn’t. They did trust Feynman. Rightly as it turned out. He was one of them. They all spoke fluent Geek. What Feynman showed is that NASA’s managers did not. They did not understand basic engineering concepts.

So basically the disaster was still a problem with diversity. Had NASA been run by engineers they all would have spoken the same language. But by that stage NASA was so big that the managers were not really engineers and they did not speak to their own employees. This is an argument for less diversity, not more.

74 Steve Sailer March 30, 2016 at 7:32 pm

The engineers in the know picked as their best bet to get the truth out the most legendary scientist in America. And they were right.

75 Steve Sailer March 30, 2016 at 7:53 pm

“After all, what mattered here was not race or gender but employment history.”

There are a lot of tenured professors (and there was more than one on the Rogers Commission).

There was only one Feynman.

76 Steve Sailer March 30, 2016 at 7:28 pm

The Supreme Court’s 2003 Grutter decision on college admissions elevated “diversity” as a compelling state interest that would allow public universities to override the 14th Amendment’s “equal protections of the laws” language. “Diversity” was claimed, based on the usual non-replicable studies, to improve classroom discussions for everybody.

Personally, I’m more sympathetic to the idea of racial quotas as reparations, but just for two finite groups: descendants of black slaves in the United States and registered members of American Indian tribes. In contrast, the diversity ideology corrupts the social sciences and is unlimited in potential extent as ever more immigrants choose to move to America, where they become legally privileged as providers of Diversity.

77 Steve Sailer March 30, 2016 at 7:47 pm

The disastrous Iraq War decision of 2001-2003 provides an interesting case study of demographic diversity in group decisionmaking, in that the top two foreign policy appointees, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condi Rice, were the products of the GOP inner circle’s affirmative action campaign of recent decades to find some black talent willing to align with the Republican Party and then promote them repeatedly.

In defense of Powell and Rice, I doubt if either would have come up with the idea for the Iraq Attaq on their own. They never seemed enthusiastic for it like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith did. Powell put up some resistance to the war in 2002. (When Rice replaced Powell in 2005, her performance was cautious and chastened.)

But, ultimately, both of them, despite their initial common sense, caved in and went along to get along.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a general pattern: affirmative action appointees promoted in the interest of “diversity” tend to be conformists, and thus we get the opposite of what is promised: instead of far-ranging arguments over the merits of proposals, we get less debate and more conformism.

78 Sebastian H March 30, 2016 at 10:59 pm

Nearly every white member of the Senate, including Hillary Clinton, for example, ‘caved in and went along to get along’. Suggesting that it had anything to do with race only reveals your biases.

79 Cliff March 30, 2016 at 11:26 pm

The study suggests that your best shot at a non-conformist is to pick the most capable. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suspect that Powell and Rice were promoted for reasons beyond just ability.

80 Steve Sailer March 30, 2016 at 11:29 pm

No, I’m suggesting that the Bush Administration’s Iraq Attaq is a well-known case study of bad decisionmaking when diversity didn’t help a group make a better decision.

And yet, affirmative action hiring of the Secretary of State and NSA actually came fairly close to helping — Powell’s prestige as the first black Secretary of State probably helped him resist the craziness a little longer than if he were white. But, sadly, it didn’t help in the end.

81 Moreno Klaus March 31, 2016 at 11:24 am

“Bad-decision making”???? It was clearly intentional… $$$…. They KNEW very well what they were doing.

82 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 7:10 am

“affirmative action appointees promoted in the interest of “diversity” tend to be conformists”

I agree with Sebastian that some of your argument reveals some biases, but I think this is also a point worth considering. Do you think that affirmative action appointees would be any more conformist than others? I sort of doubt it, but either way it doesn’t lend weight to the idea that affirmative action will itself add to viewpoint diversity in a pretty important share of decision making situations.

83 M March 31, 2016 at 6:09 pm

I don’t think it’s likely that “Affirmative Action” appointees (even if Powell and Rice were that) are by disposition generally conformist. But I could easily imagine that people who are appointed to office and who are marginal within their group might shy away from risk, where the well ensconced and privileged may not.

This is the logic of “tenure” after all.

This is probably why the most individualist cultures with the loosest group bonds most comfort with dealing with strangers (like North American culture) are generally rather conformist; when group bonds are fragile and impermanent, people will tow the line to stay within the group. More theoretically collectivist cultures where each individual has “tenure” within their group allow for more social risk taking (no one is going to turf you out of the group and freeze you out, even if they make your life more difficult, so why not speak your mind?).

84 anon March 30, 2016 at 8:34 pm

1) Here is the ungated link to the paper: http://blogg.nhh.no/thechoicelab/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ConformityPubWithAppendix.docx

2) John List was one of the editors not a referee on the paper: “We thank five anonymous referees and the editors Stephan Meier and John List for insightful comments on previous drafts.”

3) This is the concluding paragraph of the paper:

“Let us end by returning to the big question that motivated our research: Why does gender composition affect the performance of groups – as it seems to do in many cases? We still do not know. But compared to our priors we are now less inclined to ascribe beneficial effects of gender diversity to a decrease in normative social influence.”

At some level this paper may about the “power of the individual” as you say but the authors do not dispute the real-world effects of gender composition. They test a few mechanisms in stylized situations (and find some mixed results on gender composition). I am not sure the results are un-PC as the blog post title suggests. I always thought we worry about a lack of diversity because it may be a sign that *qualified* people are being shut out (or are discouraged from developing their skills) because they don’t fit some norm. Still I thought the paper was interesting. Thanks for posting.

85 P March 31, 2016 at 5:18 am

Here’s a recent paper by Alice Eagly which reviews the research on the effects of gender, race, and other kinds of diversity on group decision-making. Any effects that exist appear to be very small and may be negative:

Several meta-analyses of the diversity-performance relation have been promi-nently published, with the latest and most inclusive produced by van Dijk, vanEngen, and van Knippenberg (2012). Among this project’s 146 studies, there werethree types of settings: (a) laboratory experiments (b) field studies, and (c) studiesconducted on teams composed of undergraduate or MBA students. These field andstudent studies generally provided correlational data relating amount of diversityto group performance. The finding that the classification of studies by these threetypes of settings did not moderate diversity-performance relations eases concernsabout endogeneity, given the greater ability of the laboratory experiments to ruleout alternative explanations based on uncontrolled variables.

The meta-analysis produced mainly very small average effect sizes: The keyoverall findings were that demographic diversity yielded a small negative relationto performance outcomes (r = –.02), which was present for both gender diversity(r = –.01) and racial/ethnic diversity (r = –.05); all of these relations werenonsignificant. In contrast, job-related diversity produced a significant, but small,positive relation (r = .05). These findings replicated four prior meta-analyses basedon smaller samples of studies (Bell, Villado, Lukasik, Belau, & Briggs, 20100;Horwitz & Horwitz, 2007; H¨ulsheger, Anderson, & Salgado, 2009; Joshi & Roh,2009). In addition, a meta-analysis of 68 studies produced a nonsignificant relationbetween gender diversity and team performance (r = -.01; Schneid, Isidor, Li, &Kabst, 2015). Moreover, these meta-analytic results were generally consistentwith earlier narrative reviewers’ cautions that demographic diversity had yieldedmixed and inconclusive effects (Harrison & Klein, 2007; Mannix & Neale, 2005;Milliken & Martins, 1996; Williams & O’Reilly, 1998).

Novel results emerged when van Dijk van Engen, and van Knippenberg (2012)separated outcome variables according to (a) subjective ratings by team membersand leaders, and (b) objective measures, s uch as financial outcomes or numbersof problems solved. Subjective measures produced more extreme data—that is,an accentuation of the positive effects for job-related diversity and of the negativeeffects for demographic diversity. To account for these more extreme findings,these authors argued that subjective ratings, especially when performed by ratersexternal to the team, tended to be biased against demographic diversity and infavor of job-related diversity. Yet, even on the objective measures, demographicdiversity related nonsignificantly and slightly negatively to performance for bothgender (r = –.02) and racial/ethnic (r = –.01) diversity.

86 Econchic March 31, 2016 at 9:12 am

anon I fully agree with you on the last comment: That qualified people are shun out because they don’t fit some norm.
Honestly even reading the abstract it is obvious to me that they need to control for ‘ability’, have a diverse group but all of the same ability level, that is when you will really see the effect of diversity.
But overall I think that if you add one women to a group of ten man, she would have to be a strong woman to add a dissenting voice on that situation. I don’t think diversity has any impact on a board until there is some critical mass of diverse people, otherwise the weight on the one individual is just too much.

87 jorod March 30, 2016 at 10:34 pm

What we need is an end to public education and more diverse ideas in education. Public teachers are only interested in protecting their paychecks and grabbing as much as they can for themselves. Students are a secondary concern. The standing ideology is wrecking the educational system. Perfect example is the sexual assault nonsense. Liberals bring gang-bangers to campus and wonder why there is a rise in crime. Then they blame the male chauvinist culture. Reality is their policies of inclusion are their own petard.

88 Nathan W March 31, 2016 at 7:27 am

Which ideology is wrecking the educational system?

How would we have more viewpoint diversity if have the population can’t access an OK education?

And, while teachers are not naive as to their self interests when it comes to payday, the view that they don’t care about the students is just completely ignorant.

89 Millian March 31, 2016 at 3:51 am

First, 300 students in their early 20s being tested in lab settings at two Scandinavian educational institutions is interesting.

Second, there are limits to measuring the impact of diversity on the discussion of subjective topics by using objective logic problems whose answers differ for the test subjects. People are going to be a lot more suspicious of flaws in their own ability about logic problems, while in normal subjective problems (like being on a jury, as mentioned above), we know that there are many decision-making processes that people employ, which can be criticised (e.g. the entire history of philosophy).

90 Dots March 31, 2016 at 4:55 am

darn it those low-ability traits remind me of myself (as does most every physical and behavioral exposition of a weak, sexless character in fiction)

91 Deng Da Ping March 31, 2016 at 11:12 am

WHy did Tyler post a photo of Mao Ze Dong?

92 M March 31, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Good to know that variant of Dunning-Kruger where the low ability are more likely to overestimate their knowledge and so reject authorities in favor of their own ideas…. doesn’t really exist very much!

93 M March 31, 2016 at 6:02 pm

Really, though, let’s be honest. The main variance in conformity is going to vary as a function of specific measures to encourage or discourage group conformity. Humans respond to social incentives.

In a realistic sense, it’s going to relatively easy to create low ability groups with low conformity, and high ability groups with quite enormous conformity.

I’m fairly confident, groups (whether high ability or low ability) end up engineered for the requisite level of conformity (and cohesion and cooperation) probably quite trivially.

(And my suspicion is groups of high ability people probably often fall under the sway of particular members who *don’t* actually like the fact that their peers are not conforming. So they do things to the social environment to make conformity happen. The self appointed leaders among the capable grow fond of their “three line whips”.)

What you can’t get out of both groups, high and low ability, is the same level of ultimate quality.

94 Joshua April 6, 2016 at 1:06 am

If the authors expected gender representation to positively correlate with expression of minority views, they obviously never heard of lekking. Experimental evidence shows that guys become competitive blowhards and squash all minority views whenever a woman is in the room, much like “lekking” peacocks. The female presence isn’t there to be heard, it’s there to endorse the male opinion. What a delightfully idiotic post.

I have a great idea. Let’s test the hypothesis that Trump supporters will be less racist if they are in majority-minority districts, with minority representation. Surely the close proximity with minorities will increase the odds that those minority voices will be heard!

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