Examining Potential Bias in Research – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Examining Potential Bias in Research

This summer, Patrick Dillingham ’12 is working with Assistant Professor of Psychology Jonathan Iuzzini on a research study that involves an examination of published empirical research from major psychological journals over the past 20 years for the purposes of evaluating whether marginalized groups such as women or people of color have been adequately represented in the population samples. 

Dillingham has just begun gathering data from six major peer-reviewed psychology journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology and the Journal of Developmental Psychology.  Pulling from articles published from 1990-2009, Dillingham is examining sampling criteria to determine whether it was representative of the population at the time it was taken. He also is comparing his observations about each research sample to document and compare the characteristics of race or gender in order to identify changes in the samples over time. In addition, Dillingham and Iuzzini are trying to determine what researchers have studied when they have examined these marginalized groups over time.

“It’s cool to go back in time to see where people were at. I am finding it interesting to see throughout the years how people talked about the issues and see what the research was geared toward,” says Dillingham.

With a small team of researchers who are helping to record the data, Iuzzini and Dillingham hope to compile thousands of articles that will help them to better understand what the changes have been – to discover how these groups have been excluded or included in the research and to see how that compares to older research on the topic.

“We’re trying to find the transition that has occurred over the past two decades so that we can map it,” he says.   

Iuzzini enjoys seeing Dillingham’s newly found passion for their research. “Pat brings a great deal of positive energy to the lab, and he is a really strong thinker. This research project is a massive undertaking, but I am confident the project will run smoothly with Pat helping to manage each phase of it,” says Iuzzini.

Joining the HWS faculty in 2006, Iuzzini is an expert in the areas affirmative action and diversity in organizations, as well as racial and ethnic group relations and mass school violence.

Dillingham is a double major in sociology and psychology with a minor in education. He is involved with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program in Geneva, and enjoys playing soccer on the HWS club team.  He was also the Eco representative for Geneva Hall, responsible for reporting on the environmental sustainability of the building as well as making recommendations for future improvements.

Later this summer Iuzzini and Dillingham will begin a second project, an experimental study that will examine the relationship between implicit (i.e., automatic, unconscious) and explicit forms of bias and one’s acknowledgment of the privilege that is typically associated with people who are in high status racial, gender, and socioeconomic class groups.

Iuzzini’s research has been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. He has been quoted in the national popular press such as USA Today, as well as locally in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and others.