Facing One’s Implicit Biases: From Awareness to Acknowledgment

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Description: Expanding on conflicting theoretical conceptualizations of implicit bias, six studies tested the effectiveness of different procedures to increase acknowledgment of harboring biases against minorities. Participants who predicted their responses towards pictures of various minority groups on future IATs showed increased alignment between implicit and explicit preferences (Studies 1-3), greater levels of explicit bias (Studies 1-3), and increased self-reported acknowledgment of being racially biased (Studies 4-6). In all studies, effects of IAT score prediction on acknowledgment were significant even when participants did not actually complete IATs. Effects of predicting IAT scores were moderated by non-prejudicial goals, in that IAT score prediction increased acknowledgment of bias for participants with strong non-prejudicial goals, but not for participants with weak non-prejudicial goals (Study 4). Mere completion of IATs and feedback on IAT performance had inconsistent effects across studies and criterion measures. Instructions to attend to one’s spontaneous affective reactions toward minority group members increased acknowledgment of bias to the same extent as IAT score prediction (Study 6). The findings are consistent with conceptualizations suggesting that (1) implicit evaluations are consciously experienced as spontaneous affective reactions and (2) directing people’s attention to their spontaneous affective reactions can increase acknowledgment of bias. Implications for theoretical conceptualizations of implicit bias and interventions that aim to reduce discrimination via increased acknowledgment of bias are discussed.

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