New research published in the academic journal Personality and Individual Differences found that the most racist people often overlooked their cultural biases. Furthermore, the study recognized how dangerous it can be to downplay racial and gender-based attitudes.

As reported by the Pacific Standard magazine, the election of Donald Trump to the presidency has further heightened the “condition” known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect, in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.  In 2016, Trump famously said that he is “the least racist person you have ever met” though his entire career has been shrouded in unfair housing policies, racist attacks on Black and Brown people, and public empathy for White supremacists.

According to the study, the reason for this could be that Trump and people like him never developed the mental capacity to see their prejudices for what they are. The dangerous part of that is with that frame of mind, those people can never work towards bettering themselves.

“In line with the Dunning-Kruger model, this research found that very prejudiced individuals (i.e., those low in egalitarianism) may be genuinely unaware of their shortcomings because they lack the meta-cognition necessary to perceive them,” the study’s authors, Dr. Keon West and Dr. Asia A. Eaton, concluded.

For the sake of the study, researchers focused on anti-Black racism and surveyed 148 participants. They were asked to rank their biases in relation to race. Those who claimed to be the most pre-equality had the greatest deviation from the way they identified their biases and attitudes.  

West and Easton believe results prove that diversity training as it is, is largely ineffective. They also deduced that “actual training in techniques to reduce bias” is needed to recalibrate people’s brains to genuinely be able to see their shortcomings when it comes to viewing others as equals.

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