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LIU Brooklyn Students to Present Research on Role of Ethnicity in Interactions with Strangers

Asked for directions in Union Square, people were friendlier to members of their own ethnic group; students will present results at National Collegiate Honors Council convention in New Orleans


Margan Lyle,Associate Director of Public Relations
LIU Brooklyn,
Long Island University

Group poseBrooklyn, N.Y. – Passers-by in Union Square were more likely to smile and make eye contact with people from their own ethnic group when asked for directions, Long Island University students have found.

People of Asian heritage were friendlier to Asian strangers than to whites, and whites were nicer to white strangers than to Asians, the students found. They based their conclusions on interactions with 360 people over three Saturdays in July and August.

The four LIU Brooklyn students – Elizabeth Brukson, Pak Ho Wu, Winnie Lin and Melanie Tan, all members of the campus Honors Program – will present a poster of their study, “How Do I Look? A Study on the Impact of Physical Appearance and Human Interaction,” Nov. 8 at the National Collegiate Honors Conference in New Orleans.

The students originally set out to see whether strangers would be put off by unusual clothing, such as the “Goth” style of dress. One student wore Goth clothing while another dressed conservatively, and the strangers’ responses were videotaped.

The researchers quickly realized their ethnicity was a bigger issue, said Elizabeth Brukson of Brooklyn, a student in the Ph.D. in pharmacy program. Asians were more cooperative when approached by Asian students, and the same was true of whites.

“What we found was that yes, ethnicity does play a role,” Brukson said. “It was interesting to see that correlation.” The researchers considered the possibility that language played a role, but it did not alter their conclusion.

To learn more about the honors conference, click here.


LIU Brooklyn is distinguished by...
dynamic curricula reflecting the great urban community it serves. Distinctive programs encompass the arts and media, the natural sciences, business, social policy, urban education, the health professions and pharmacy, and include the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, the D.P.T. in Physical Therapy and the Pharm.D. in Pharmacy. A vibrant urban oasis in downtown Brooklyn, this diverse and thriving campus offers academic excellence, personalized attention, small class size and flexible course schedules. In 2006, a $45-million Steinberg Wellness Center was opened to serve the Campus and the surrounding community. In 2007, the Cyber Café was launched, providing a high-tech hot spot for students and faculty members to meet and eat.

Posted 10/01/2013

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