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, 2014; Uhlmann and Cohen, 2007). In simulation tasks people mistakenly ‘shoot’ unarmed black suspects more frequently than unarmed white suspects (see Plant and Peruche, 2005; Correll 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?