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April 24, 2014

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Jeff Harrison

Interesting study and I have no doubt that there is truth in there but it seems flawed to me. It may say as much about class as it does about race. I could have supplied some "white names" that would have exposed a class bias. How about a Wayne or D'Wayne. And, I am not sure the African American names are not similarly biased by class. I am also thinking that white males are hesitant to respond to invitations from women.

Jeff Harrison

Some more comments. I cannot tell if the students were identified as American. More than half the time I receive a letter from someone with a Chinese or Indian name, I, perhaps incorrectly, assume that it will mean arranging financial aid, and masses of red tape. I make that assumption based on many experiences in which this turned out to be the case. Now, if I am uncertain, I forward the letter to someone in charge of international students. This is especially true if the letter is as vague as the one used in the experiment. Of course, I do not know if any of the actual respondents react as I do.

I also wonder why the authors did not report and R-squares. We actually do not know what portion of the variation from group to group was explained by the experiment.

Again, I suspect they have uncovered a class bias based on the names but that would not be very jazzy to consider. In fact, just surfing the net, none of the African American names are listed on a long list of most popular. I understand how they selected those names but if they had gone through the same process and asked people to identify names by class, they may have gotten the same line up and then their results would be about discrimination based on perceived class. Without checking that, I am not sure what to make of the effort.

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