The Paltry Effect of Political Correctness
By Bryan Caplan
Sure, colleges are full of politically correct indoctrination. But how well does the indoctrination actually work? Poorly. How College Affects Students reviews the whole literature and finds that:
Net of the attitudes and other characteristics students bring with them to college, the small changes reported in students’ political orientations (on a continuum from left to right) virtually disappear.
In other words, college students end up a bit leftist because they start a bit leftist, not because their profs “raise their awareness.”
While college fails as a leftist re-education camp, it does have measurable effects on two narrow areas:
1. “[S]tudents’ racial, ethnic, and multicultural attitudes and values”:
The link persists in the presence of a wide array of controls, including those reflecting students’ precollege attitudes and values, and across various outcome measures, including cultural awareness, acceptance of different races and cultures, commitment to promoting racial understanding, support for busing, viewing racism as a continuing problem, and increases in openness to diversity broadly defined.
2. Gender attitudes. College increases support for equal economic opportunity for women and intolerance for date rape, and decreases support for the view that “women’s place in in the home.”
Bottom line: Whether you love P.C. or hate it, don’t overrate it. Colleges nudge students’ views on multiculturalism and sexism. But they don’t turn moderates into liberals, or liberals into socialists. As the Engineer sings in Miss Saigon:
Three years of school was nice
in rice fields, planting rice
You did good work you see
But men, will always be men
They washed out my brain
I’m still who I am
Deep inside, I know what I know
Wherever I go, I speak Uncle Ho
and think Uncle Sam.