Ryan D. Enos: Why Does Segregation Cause Prejudice?


Monday, October 26, 2015, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Ryan D. Enos, Associate Professor of Government, Harvard University.

Inter-ethnic residential segregation is correlated with intergroup bias and conflict, poorly functioning states and civil societies, weak economic development, and ethnocentric political behavior. However, segregation has not been assigned in randomized controlled trials, so the observed correlations between segregation and these outcomes may be spurious.

In a series of experiments, we randomly assign segregation in a laboratory and demonstrate that segregation directly affects human cognition. These experiments include the randomized assignment of in-person subjects to the experience of a spatially segregated environment.

We demonstrate that segregation affects human perception, stereotypical attitudes towards other groups, and even the tendency to show bias in costly decision-making. A direct effect of segregation on attitudes and behaviors may call for different policies than are currently being pursued in the United States and other industrialized countries.

About the speaker

Ryan Enos is a social scientist studying political psychology, race and ethnic politics, and political behavior in the United States and other countries.

He is a faculty affiliate of Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Center for American Political Studies, Center for Geographic Analysis, and the Ph.D. Program in Government & Social Policy. He is a member of egap: evidence in governance and politics and also a Guest Professor of Political Science at University of Copenhagen.

Enos studies political behavior and intergroup attitudes through laboratory and field experiments and other methods.  He directs the Working Group in Political Psychology, an interdisciplinary forum for research on the microfoundations of citizen and elite behavior, and the Harvard Digital Lab for the Social Sciences. He  is also affiliated with the Behavioral Insights Group, Foundations of Human Behavior Initiative, and the Experiential Learning Lab (TELLab).

His research has been published in the American Political Science Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Journal of Political Science, in addition to other outlets, and has been covered in major media outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.  

He earned his AB in political science and history from U.C. Berkeley and his MA and PhD in political science from UCLA. Before entering academia, he was a teacher at Paul Robeson High School in Chicago, IL.  

See also: Fall 2015