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Studying Racial Bias

Too Hot to Handle?


Jane Marantz Connor
Psychology Department
Binghamton University


Students evaluate a research proposal to determine if it is consistent with ethical principles and federal guidelines for conducting research with human subjects. The case can be taught either as a discussion case or using role-playing.  This case was developed to be used in a seminar on prejudice and racism. It could also be used in a general diversity course, research methods course, or social psychology course.


  • Learn about the role of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) in protecting the welfare of research participants.
  • Illustrate the major areas of concern that IRBs address in their reviews of proposed research: informed consent, risks, and benefits.
  • Discover the differences in perspectives between those with and without power in society and the subjectivity of the judgments that the IRB must make.
  • Clarify the difference between individual racism and institutional racism.
  • Develop listening skills and analytical skills as well as an appreciation for different values and perspectives.
  • Illustrate how research can be used both to increase our understanding of human behavior and make societal changes to address issues of social justice.


Racial bias; racism; research methods; human subject; informed consent; beneficence; confidentiality; deception; Institutional Review Board; IRB; experimental design

Topical Areas

Ethics, Legal issues, Scientific method, Social issues, Social justice issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate



Type / Methods

Analysis (Issues), Discussion, Role-Play



Subject Headings

Psychology  |   Science (General)  |   Sociology  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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