Implicit Bias

Our judgments and behaviours can be prejudiced even if we genuinely intend and believe ourselves to be without prejudice. This is because there are automatic mental processes – implicit biases – which hinder our ability to make impartial judgments.

Implicit biases are extremely common. For example, the vast majority of the millions who have taken a racial Implicit Association Test (IAT) show an implicit preference for white/light-skin over black/dark-skin.

Implicit biases can be implicated in a range of social cognitions, concerning gender, race, age, ability, sexuality, and other protected characteristics.

Implicit biases can influence behaviour. For example, the same CV’s are rated less favourably when assigned a female rather than a male name (see Moss-Racusin et al, 2014Uhlmann and Cohen, 2007). In simulation tasks people mistakenly ‘shoot’ unarmed black suspects more frequently than unarmed white suspects (see Plant and Peruche, 2005Correll et al, 2002).

Everyone is susceptible to implicit biases and we all share a responsibility to reduce their negative impact. See Training to see what steps you can take to confront and combat implicit bias.

You can take an Implicit Association Test at: Project Implicit

For a more detailed examination of Implicit Bias see our paper in Philosophical Compass: What is Implicit Bias?