The Real Benefit Of Political Correctness, According To Science

Photo Courtesy ABC
This looks like good news for workplaces and schools everywhere: According to a study, that scourge of political correctness that people (OK, white men) complain will eventually ruin everything good and innovative in the world might actually have the opposite effect. It helps promote creativity.

Washington University in St. Louis Professor Michelle Duguid spoke to NPR's All Things Considered about the study she conducted, which confirms what your HR department probably already knows. She arranged students in groups of three (some same gender and some mixed gender) to brainstorm ideas about what to do with a vacant space on campus. The control groups got right to work, while the other subjects were first asked, "As a group, please list examples of political correctness that you have either heard of or directly experienced on this campus." 

After 10 minutes of listing these PC examples, the groups that were mixed gender came up with more innovative ideas than their non-example listing control-group counterparts. 

What's the upshot of all this? "Men are uncertain about what may be seen maybe as sexist or inappropriate," Duguid said. "And women, they're uncertain about, you know, 'Can I speak up, because will my ideas be valued?' But in both cases, by reducing this uncertainty, people were much more open — both men and women — to share more ideas and more novel ideas; ideas that were kind of out-of-the-box that would be associated with uncertainty." 

Anyone who's worked or studied in a place where sexist, racist or homophobic jokes were acceptable would likely attest to this already. But it's certainly good to have scientific backing next time some bro complains his creativity is stiffled.      

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