The limited effect of political correctness in college

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.


Changes in expressed attitudes may not mean much -- particularly in the area of race and racism. Since LaPiere's study in the 1930s, psychologists have known that the relationship between expressed attitudes and behavior is weak to non-existent. So the kids may learn to say the "right" thing but how they act when free to do so will be another matter.

Note also that Right/Left orientation is highly hereditary so again little real change is likely as a result of the college experience -- JR

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