Affirmative Action/”Diversity” Policies Not Mentally Healthy, Say Researchers

It seems that being told you’re worthwhile primarily for your race, your gender or your sexual orientation is not good for your mental health, and it’s not good for social and interpersonal relationships. And psychological researchers are starting to say so.

Psychological researchers have come out against diversity-based admissions and other policies on college campuses – from a psychological, not merely social-political point-of-view.

Here’s their reasoning:

“A basic principle of psychology is that people pay more attention to information that predicts important outcomes in their lives,” the authors write. “A second principle of psychology is the power of cooperation. When groups face a common threat or challenge, it tends to dissolve enmity … [W]hen groups are put into competition with each other, people readily shift into zero-sum thinking and hostility. With these principles in mind, it is hard to see how the programs now being adopted by many universities will serve to create campuses where students of color feel more welcome and less marginalized.”

In other words, the vast majority of people are concerned, in some measure, with their rational self-interests. This is what motivates people, at least to some extent – and, where life is the objective standard of value, it should motivate people.

College admissions and performance, like any other value, should be based on achievement. Your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, or any other standard of that kind … none of these are achievements. They are morally neutral, because morality only applies to the realm of choice.

Honestly and verifiably earning A’s in your coursework? That’s an achievement. Being a female? Or black? Or Asian? Those are not achievements, not at all. The moment you place these into the area where they do not belong, you distort, contort or otherwise pervert the only possible and sustainable motivation for human beings in any productive setting: That of achievement.

“As a result of these disparate admissions standards, many students spend four years in a social environment where race conveys useful information about the academic capacity of their peers,” they say. “People notice useful social cues, and one of the strongest causes of stereotypes is exposure to real group differences. If a school commits to doubling the number of black students, it will have to reach deeper into its pool of black applicants, admitting those with weaker qualifications, particularly if most other schools are doing the same thing. This is likely to make racial gaps larger, which would strengthen the negative stereotypes that students of color find when they arrive on campus.”

Advocates of racially based admissions and other such standards are detached from reality. They focus on the social-political, as apart from the reality of the actual individual. By ignoring the individual, they ignore all things that make human beings what they are, including their aspirations, needs, wants, desires and fundamental motivations.

Psychologically entrenched and politically connected adherents of affirmative action and forced “diversity” are great at congratulating themselves and others in their peer groups, people who generally hold control over the federal government, including the grants and favors that the federal government hands out. “Look at us. We favor diversity. We are morally pure, morally superior people. You don’t agree with us? What are you, a racist? A hater? And who the hell cares what you think? We hold the power over the funds.”

With college funding moving towards a single-payer government model, as Bernie Sanders advocates and as Hillary Clinton supports (at a slightly slower pace), we can expect the rules as we know them to intensify, not go by the wayside. The best and the brightest are the ones with the most to lose in a government-run, race and gender based so-called progressive university system. They are the ones motivated by achievement, and who must pay the biggest price when something other than achievement (race, gender, political connection) becomes the basis for rewarding students.

Opponents of these policies are right to oppose them from a social-political point-of-view. But we should consider the psychological factors, as well. That’s why I find this research important.

It’s really not that hard to understand. When you put human beings into a context where the rules of the game are determined by factors having nothing to do with one’s actual achievements or choices – factors such as race, or gender – then you demoralize people. The supposed beneficiaries of these policies – the blacks, the women, the members of any politically connected group – are told they were lifted higher not for their accomplishments, but for factors they did not and could not control. They’re not told this directly, but it’s self-evident from the fact they are asked their race or gender when applying, and where they know full well this will be an asset. This sets up a cynical form of competition where everyone knows accomplishment is not the defining or ruling standard. It’s fundamentally unjust, and everyone knows it, no matter how afraid they are to say so out loud, due to the intimidating influence of political correctness mentally strangling our society.

Bravo to these researchers, Lee Jussim of Rutgers University and Jonathan Haidt of New York University. I respect and appreciate their willingness to put forth the facts that most of us suspect are true, but are afraid to ponder since the anti-intellectual nature of political correctness has cast an intellectual iron curtain over academia and society. I hope their careers do not suffer too much for their efforts.

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