Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Friday, January 8, 2010

Something Else Against Immigrants

We are all aware that newcomers to Canada face higher levels of underemployment, if not unemployment. A recent edition of the BPS Research Digest offers what seems a relatively new kind of explanation for the attitudes that worsen these problems. The discussion depends on a concept called cognitive fluency.

Cognitive fluency measures the ability to perform simple and complex [mental] tasks quickly and fluently. The fluency aspect refers to automaticity, or the ability to develop or use skills so quickly that they become routine and do not require much effort1,2.

So cognitive fluency is something that a person can display at varying levels depending on what tasks are being attempted. Not surprisingly it would appear that we feel greater levels of comfort performing tasks which give rise to heightened cognitive fluency. Who wants to do things that don’t seem to flow smoothly and automatically?

The article entitled, “Prejudice towards migrants stems partly from the fact that they’re awkward to think about,” discusses the possibility that dealing with migrants obliges people to work at suboptimal levels of cognitive fluency and that this works against their interests.

Given that this has some truth to it what should we as career developers do?

1Fredrick A. Schrank and Dawn P. Flanagan, WJ III Clinical Use and Interpretation: Scientist-Practitioner Perspectives, Academic Press, 2003
2From Daniel C Miller, Essentials of school neuropsychological assessment, John Wiley, 2007