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Am Psychol. 2005 Jan;60(1):37-45.

In the eye of the storm: race and genomics in research and practice.

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Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Program, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20893-9305, USA.


The difficulties of operationalizing race in research and practice for social, behavioral, and genetic researchers and practitioners are neither new nor related to recent genetic knowledge. For geneticists, the bases for understanding groups are clines, observed traits that gradually change in frequency between geographic regions without distinct identifiable population boundaries and population histories that carry information about the distribution of genetic variants. For psychologists, race may not exist or be a social and cultural construct associated with fluid social inferences. Because definitions of populations and race can be socially and biologically incongruent, the authors suggest that geneticists and social and behavioral scientists and clinicians attend to external validity issues by operationalizing population and racial categories and avoiding race proxies for other biological, social, and cultural constructs in research designs, data analyses, and clinical practice.

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