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What People Say Is Not What They Do – a Case Study of Reactions to Facial Disfigurement
Dr Alastair Goode, Market Research Society, Annual Conference, 2009
The article argues that self-report often does not accurately represent people’s beliefs or behaviour.
The article argues that self-report often does not accurately represent people’s beliefs or behaviour. This is illustrated from a project carried out for Changing Faces, an organisation that supports people with a facial disfigurement. Changing Faces wished to start a campaign they called Face Equality, to raise awareness of the issue of discrimination due to physical appearance. As part of this campaign they decided to conduct research demonstrating that negative attitudes did exist towards those with a facial disfigurement. The Implicit Attitude Test has shown that implicit measures of attitude towards social phenomena such as race and sexuality can compare very differently to self-reporting of the same respondents towards these issues; similar implicit biases towards facial disfigurement were thought likely. Use of the IAT online in the Changing Faces study is described. The IAT revealed that people very strongly associated negatives with images of those with a facial disfigurement, but in the self-report section of the test they chose not to report this. The negative bias and the extent to which it was counteracted in self-reporting were both unexpectedly strong. Possible reasons are discussed. It is hypothesised that the reason why the facially disfigured experience disadvantage, even though most people believe they would never wish to discriminate, is that intuitive feelings often mediate our behaviour, and that physical attributes seem to be a significant determining factor in other people’s perception as to whether someone is capable. How this insight informed the campaign is discussed. The campaign would aim to make people aware that they have these implicit negative reactions, by persuading them to take the IAT test. The IAT test used pre-post tracked the campaigns effectiveness.
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