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Posts Tagged ‘Unconscious Bias’

Patrick Shin at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 6, 2011

On Tuesday, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) is hosting a talk by Suffolk Law professor Patrick Shin entitled “Unconscious Bias and the Legal Concept of Discrimination.”

Professor Shin is a professor of law at Suffolk University Law School. He conducts research into the meaning and value of diversity in antidiscrimination law. He has applied psychology to real-world problems of employment discrimination law.

Professor Shin will be speaking in Austin East from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Free burritos will be provided! For more information, e-mail

Posted in Events, Implicit Associations, Law, Legal Theory | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Examining the Gendered Situation of Harvard Business School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 5, 2010

Julia Brau, Paayal Desai, Alexandra Germain, Akmaral Omarova, Jung Paik,  and Julie Sandler are all students at Harvard Business School (HBS) who last week published a thoughtful article in their student newspaper The Harbus.  With potential lessons and relevance for many institutions, the piece discusses recent efforts  to understand and address sources of gender discrepancies in academic performance at HBS.  Here are some excerpts.

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Are men and women equal at HBS? It’s a question that has been front of mind at HBS in recent weeks. . . .

One of these many efforts is a field study that focuses on analyzing and addressing the current differences between the male and female academic experience at HBS. As The Harbus published in a Fall article, “WSA Academic Initiative Survey,” there is a marked discrepancy between male and female academic performance: though comprising 38% of the Class of 2010 student body, female students make up only 23% of first year honors recipients and an estimated 55% of the students asked to take leave from HBS after the RC [i.e., first] year in 2009. Females in past years with similar class compositions have comprised 11-14% of Baker Scholars.

This semester, a group of ECs partnered with faculty and HBS administration to understand some of the root causes driving these trends. The study was completed through three workstreams. First, a series of focus groups was conducted with a variety of students – men and women, honors recipients, sectionmates and non-sectionmantes – to try to identify root causes of grading inequities and generate a catalog of academic best practices that could be helpful to future students. Second, interviews with faculty explored academic root causes of underperformance from the faculty’s perspective and identified potential areas for improvement. Finally, all these efforts coincided with a data-focused workstream that included analysis of publicly available honors, class card and other information to understand if certain factors such as relationship status, age or work background play a part in determining male and female performance.

Preliminary findings on root causes have been grouped into five areas to be examined in another field study this fall.

Comment Frequency and Delivery
Survey and focus group results, along with faculty feedback, confirmed previous findings that women feel less comfortable speaking in class. Women also speak less frequently and with less confidence. Most notably, they are less willing to potentially offend or challenge classmates than their male peers are.

Section Dynamics
Some sections reported better female performance (i.e. many more female honors recipients, fewer females asked to take leave) than others, suggesting that the social and academic tone of a given section could impact men and women differently. Data analysis also showed that a much higher percentage of female honors students than average are married, suggesting further underlying social dynamics at work. Given this information, directed focus groups attempted to illuminate the role of social dynamics in predicting performance across genders. It seemed clear from focus groups that students take into account their social relationships with section peers when deciding whether to speak and what to say. Furthermore, focus group feedback indicated that dramatic in-class bonding experiences, Skydecks that avoided personal attacks, and engaged officers (leadership & values representatives, education representatives and presidents) all played a role in setting the tone for a positive learning environment for both men and women.

Potential Unconscious Faculty Biases
There is a body of research that shows that male and female comments are unconsciously processed differently. Focus group and Fall survey data further suggest that people perceive that women are raising their hands less and consequently getting called on less than men. Professor interviews exposed a wide range of faculty opinions on this unconscious bias issue; some professors care deeply about performance of different minorities and actively manage calling patterns and in-class interactions, while other professors feel they do not have any biases to manage. Faculty, for the most part, admitted that unconscious biases may exist and in turn asked for help in identifying these biases.

Admissions Differences:
Focus group feedback showed some students thought differences in grades might be explained by differences between men’s and women’s backgrounds and admissions profiles. Admissions data cannot be used for purposes other than admissions, but preliminary analysis using the classcards and honors list statistics of four representative sections yielded some interesting results. People with backgrounds in consulting and/or finance made up 84% of the honors list. In the four sections studied, women were actually more likely than men (70% women versus 60% men) to come from these finance or consulting backgrounds. On the flip side, first year honors recipients from the sections studied had a little more work experience than average while women across the four sections on average had fewer years’ work experience than men. Follow-up research in the fall will look into this issue further.

Lack of Female Role Models
Fall survey and focus group data highlighted female discomfort with the current lack of female professors and case protagonists. Psychology research supports the notion that women could be at a disadvantage from not seeing more female role models at HBS.

Summary of Findings and Next Steps
While HBS is still a long way from achieving grading parity, much has been accomplished through this field study and other ongoing efforts around this issue. Detailed analysis of grade and classroom data is helping the administration to better understand what factors contribute to performance. This May, HBS professors will have the opportunity to attend one of two sessions with Harvard psychologist [and Situationist Contributor] Mahzarin Banaji to understand how implicit biases affect how males and females are perceived differently in class settings. Efforts are underway to have next year’s RCs see a case that directly addresses gender dynamics in the workplace. In addition, extra sessions on class participation with Professor Frances Frei will be opened up to all students. Future students will receive a Survival Guide with updated information on difference between male and female academic performance. In addition, a series of recommendations ranging from opening analytics to all students to sharing EC exam grades and more detailed mid-semester RC participation feedback has been presented to the HBS administration.

Finally, a large part of this effort has been focused on keeping a dialogue open on issues surrounding female academic performance. An important study (Shih, Pittinsky & Ambady, Psychological Science, 1999) showed that Asian women performed better on math exams when their ethnic identities were activated than when their gender identities were activated by a series of questions at the start of the test. There was an internal implicit bias that made these women do worse when they self-identified as women than when they self-identified as Asian. A second study (Kray, Thompson & Galinsky, Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 2001) showed that when this tendency to underperform was made explicitly known to test-takers in advance, the effect completely disappeared. One of the most important goals of the ongoing Women’s Initiative is to make explicit the underlying factors that can lead to grade disparity at HBS so that women can knowingly work to overcome them.

While there is some question as to whether or not HBS prepares women best for the “real world” by mirroring existing social conditions or by implementing changes to be “better” than the norm, the administration tends to come down on the side that says HBS should be a leader in the business community that sets, rather than follows, the larger social tone. The question for the HBS administration seems to be not whether to do anything, but what can be done to best ensure equality in grading. In the meantime, student movements like the Women’s Initiative will seek to help women understand the existing issues and try to give all students better tools to succeed both at HBS and in the workplace.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “A Rose by any other Name Might Become a Judge,” “Not Just Whistling Vivaldi,” The Nerdy, Gendered Situation of Computer Science,” The Situation of Gender-Science Stereotypes,”Women’s Situational Bind,” The Situation of Gender and Science,Stereotype Threat and Performance,” “The Gendered Situation of Science & Math,” Gender-Imbalanced Situation of Math, Science, and Engineering,” “Sex Differences in Math and Science,” “You Shouldn’t Stereotype Stereotypes,” “The Situation of Standardized Test Scores,” “Women’s Situation in Economics,” and “Your Group is Bad at Math.”

Posted in Education, Implicit Associations, Situationist Contributors | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Liability for Unconscious Discrimination?

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 28, 2010

Patrick Shin recently posted his excellent article, titled “Liability for Unconscious Discrimination? A Thought Experiment in the Theory of Employment Discrimination Law” (forthcoming Hastings Law Journal) on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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A steadily mounting body of social science research suggests that ascertaining a person’s conscious motives for an action may not always provide a complete explanation of why he did it. The phenomenon of unconscious bias presents a worrisome impediment to the achievement of fair equality in the workplace. There have been numerous deeply insightful articles discussing various aspects of this problem and canvassing its implications for antidiscrimination law.

My purpose in this paper is to focus directly on what might be called a more naïve question: should implicit bias be a basis of disparate treatment liability under Title VII? The question might fairly be regarded as naïve insofar as any proposal for such liability would surely be unripe for present implementation, in light of serious issues pertaining to problems of proof in individual cases, not to mention intramural disputes among experts about the proper practical inferences that can be drawn from extant social science research.

My interest, however, is more theoretically basic. I want to understand whether and how the notion of unconsciously biased action fits into our operative legal concept of actionable discrimination. To reach that issue, I devise a thought experiment in which I assume, first, that unconscious or implicit bias is real in a sense that I will make explicit, and second, that unconscious discrimination is provable – i.e., that the influence of implicit bias on an agent’s action is something that can, in principle, be proved in individual cases. With these assumptions, I construct an hypothetical test case that squarely raises what I regard to be the hard question for theorizing about unconscious discrimination. Should an employment action give rise to liability when that action was provably affected by the actor’s unconscious bias in respect of a statutorily protected classification, even when the actor consciously acted only on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons? The payoff of this thought experiment is not only a clearer picture of the theoretical commitments entailed by liability based on unconscious bias, but also a keener understanding of our currently prevailing notions of actionable discrimination.

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You can download the paper for free here.  For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Krieger on the Situation of Discrimination in France,” “What Are the Legal Implications of Implicit Biases?,” Colorblinded Wages – Abstract,” Firefighters and the Situation of “Merit”,” and The Situation of Situation in Employment Discrimination Law – Abstract.” For a list of Situationist posts discussing the research on implicit bias and the IAT, click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Implicit Associations, Law | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Behavioral Consequences of Unconscious Bias

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 22, 2009

NYTimes Tierney Implicit Bias.jpgFrom EurekaAlert and the new Blog, Project Implicit:

In the decade since the Implicit Association Test was introduced, its most surprising and controversial finding is its indication that about 70 percent of those who took a version of the test that measures racial attitudes have an unconscious, or implicit, preference for white people compared to blacks. This contrasts with figures generally under 20 percent for self report, or survey, measures of race bias.

A new study published this week validates those findings, showing that the Implicit Association Test, a psychological tool, has validity in predicting behavior and, in particular, that it has significantly greater validity than self-reports in the socially sensitive topics of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and age.

The research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is an overview and analysis of 122 published and unpublished reports of 184 different research studies. In this analysis, 85 percent of the studies also included self-reporting measures of the type generally used in surveys. This allowed the researchers, headed by University of Washington psychology Professor Anthony Greenwald, to compare the test’s success in predicting social behavior and judgment with the success of self-reports.

“In socially sensitive areas, especially black-white interracial behavior, the test had significantly greater predictive value than self-reports. This finding establishes the Implicit Association Test’s value in research to understand the roots of race and other discrimination,” said Greenwald. “What was especially surprising was how ineffective standard self-report measurers were in the areas in which the test measures have been of greatest interest – predicting interracial behavior.”

Greenwald created the Implicit Association Test in 1998 and he and Mahzarin Banaji, a Harvard psychology professor, and Brian Nosek, a University of Virginia associate professor of psychology, further developed it. Since then the test has been used in more than 1,000 research studies around the world. More than 10 million versions of the test have been completed at an Internet site where they are available as a self-administer demonstration.

The research looked at studies covering nine different areas – consumer preference, black-white interracial behavior, personality differences, clinical phenomena, alcohol and drug use, non-racial intergroup behavior, gender and sexual orientation, close relationships and political preferences.

Findings also showed that:

  • Across all nine of these areas, measures of the test were useful in predicting social behavior.
  • Both the test, which is implicit, and self-reports, which are explicit, had predictive validity independent of each other. This suggests the desirability of using both types of measure in surveys and applied research studies.
  • In consumer and political preferences both measures effectively predicted behavior, but self-reports had significantly greater predictive validity.

Studies in the research came from a number of countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Poland and the United States. They looked at such topics as attitudes of undecided voters one-month prior to an Italian election; treatment recommendations by physicians for black and white heart attack victims; and reactions to spiders before and after treatment for arachnophobia, or spider phobia.

“The Implicit Association Test is controversial because many people believe that racial bias is largely a thing of the past. The test’s finding of a widespread, automatic form of race preference violates people’s image of tolerance and is hard for them to accept. When you are unaware of attitudes or stereotypes, they can unintentionally affect your behavior. Awareness can help to overcome this unwanted influence,” said Greenwald.

Co-authors of the new study are [Situationist Contributor] Mahzarin Banaji, T. Andrew Poehlman of Southern Methodist University and Eric Uhlmann of Northwestern University.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Confronting the Backlash against Implicit Bias,” Legal Academic Backlash – Abstract,” “Naïve Cynicism in Election 2008: Dispositionism v. Situationism?,” and “Implicit Bias and Strawmen.”

Image source is here.

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The Situation of Pollworkers and Voting Booths – Abstract

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 21, 2009

poll workersAntony Page and Michael J Pitts recently posted their  intriguing article, “Poll Workers, Election Law, and the Problem of Implicit Bias” (forthcoming in Michigan Journal of Race & Law) on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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Racial bias in election administration – more specifically, in the interaction between pollworkers and voters at a voting booth on election day – may be implicit, or unconscious. Indeed, the operation of a polling place may present an “optimal” setting for unconscious racial bias to occur. Pollworkers sometimes have legal discretion to decide whether or not a prospective voter gets to cast a ballot, and they operate in an environment where they may have to make quick decisions, based on little information, with few concrete incentives for accuracy, and with little opportunity to learn from their errors. Even where the letter of the law does not explicitly allow for a pollworker to exercise discretion, there is a strong possibility that unconscious bias could play a role in pollworker decision-making. Whether a poll workers’ discretion is de jure or de facto, the result may be race-based discrimination between prospective voters. This article addresses how unconscious bias may play a role in the interaction between pollworkers and prospective voters and discusses some ways in which the potential for unconscious bias to operate in America’s polling places may be mitigated.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Racial Situation of Voting,” “Why Race May Influence Us Even When We “Know” It Doesn’t,” “The Interior Situation of Undecided Voters,” On Being a Mindful Voter,” “Implicit Associations in the 2008 Presidential Election,” “The Situation of Political Animals,” and “Your Brain on Politics.”

To review all of the previous Situationist posts discussing implicit associations click on the “Implicit Associations” category in the right margin, or, for a list of such posts, click here.

Image from The Virginia Pilot.

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Political Psychology in 2008

Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 5, 2008

Sharon Begley has a very interesting article, “How Our Unconscious Votes,” in Here’s an excerpt.

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Give the democrats of West Virginia points for honesty. As Hillary Clinton romped to a landslide of 67 to 26 percent over Barack Obama in the primary, 20 percent of voters in exit polls said that race was an important factor in their choice—triple the percentage of earlier primaries. Of those, 80 percent voted for Clinton, making clear what they meant by “important.”

Obama’s “black supremacist” minister concerns her, one woman told my colleague Suzanne Smalley. Another found Obama’s “background, his heritage” suspicious. Both said they’d vote for John McCain over Obama.

The 2008 campaign has been subjected to more psychological analysis than Woody Allen. The top Democratic candidates asked psychology researchers for input, as did the national party, several state parties and the House and Senate Democratic caucuses. The 2007 book “The Political Brain,” by psychologist Drew Westen of Emory University, became a must-read for strategists, and so far it looks as though they got their money’s worth: key predictions of political psychology have held up pretty well on the campaign trail. Voters are driven more by emotions than by a cold-eyed, logical analysis of a candidate’s record and positions; witness the legions of anti-immigration Republicans who pulled the lever for McCain. Ten-point plans (Clinton) don’t move voters as powerfully as inspirational oratory (Obama). And unconscious motivations are stronger than conscious ones. This last finding might explain the growing role of racism in the campaign as well as the persistent “happiness gap” between liberals and conservatives—both of which will matter in November.

In March, when I wrote about research showing that people ignore race if another salient trait is emphasized, scientists agreed that Obama had to convey that “he is one of us.” That “us” could be Democrats, family men, opponents of the Iraq invasion, enemies of politics as usual. Instead, opponents (and the media) began playing up his “otherness”—not wearing a flag pin, belonging to a black church, having an exotic name. And Obama began slipping, losing support among blue-collar white voters in particular.

It may seem paradoxical, but to stop the bleeding Obama needs to talk about race more often and more explicitly. “Only 3 or 4 percent of people today consciously endorse racist sentiments,” says Westen. “But there are residues of prejudice at the unconscious level, and they aren’t difficult to activate if you know how to do it. Our better angels on race tend to be our conscious rather than our unconscious values and emotions.” It is those conscious brain circuits that Obama needs to keep activating, says Westen, “by talking about racism openly and attacking those who say white America will never vote for a black for president. Appeal to people’s conscious values.” That has a good chance of keeping unconscious racism at bay, brain studies show. Even more effective, combine direct talk about racism with an “I am like you” message, which leads the brain to focus on categories other than race. “Make it about ‘us’,” says Westen. “Talk about how we feel angry if a black fireman gets promoted ahead of us for no reason but affirmative action. Talk about how it’s natural to look at someone different from us and ask, does he share my values, can he understand me?”

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To read the entire article, including a discussion of Situationist contributor John Jost’s recent work, click here. For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Do We Miss Racial Stereotypes Today that Will Be Evident Tomorrow?,” “Perceptions of Racial Divide,” “New Yorker Cover of the Obamas and Source Amnesia,” “Voting for a Face,” “The Situation of Swift-Boating,” On Being a Mindful Voter,” “Naïve Cynicism in Election 2008: Dispositionism v. Situationism?,” “Implicit Associations in the 2008 Presidential Election,” “The Situation of Political Animals,” and “Your Brain on Politics.” For other posts on the Situation of politics, click here.

Posted in Choice Myth, Emotions, Ideology, Implicit Associations, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Implicit Associations in the 2008 Presidential Election

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 24, 2008

obama-mccain.jpgGregory Scott Parks and Jeffrey J. Rachlinski have posted a new paper, “Unconscious Bias in the 2008 Presidential Election,” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The 2008 presidential campaign and election will be historic. It marks the first time a Black person (Barack Obama) and a woman (Hillary Clinton) have a real chance at winning the Presidency. Their viability as candidates symbolizes significant progress in overcoming racial and gender stereotypes in America. But closer analysis of the campaigns reveals that race and gender have placed enormous constraints on how these two Senators can run their candidacy. This is not surprising in light of the history of race and gender in voting and politics in America. But what is perhaps more surprising is how the campaigns have had to struggle not only with overt sexism and racism, but with unconscious, or implicit, biases in their campaigns. Recent research from social psychologists indicates that unconscious race and gender biases are widespread and influence judgment. Because existing anti-discrimination law is designed to combat overt, or explicit, biases, it does not address unconscious biases well. If even Senators Clinton and Obama, with an array of consultants and advisors behind them, find unconscious racism and sexism to be a stumbling block in what is nothing more than the most elaborate, grandest job interview of them all, then what must it be to the average Black person or woman seeking a job or promotion?

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Gregory Parks published a two-part series on Huffington Post in February about this research (link to Part I or Part II). We have excerpted sections of those posts below.

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In areas dominated by whites, black electoral success is rare. Not all researchers have found an interactive effect of voter and candidate race. Those who have not, however, have indicated one major methodological shortcoming of their, respective, studies — the possibility that study respondents were not honest about their opposition to black candidates. As such, a better predictor of the role that race plays in voter decision-making would be their implicit attitudes about race. With that in mind, let me make a few points:

An implicit construct is “the introspectively unidentified (or inaccurately identified) trace of past experience that mediates [the category of responses that are assumed to be influenced by that construct].” Implicit cognition reveals mental associations that people do not want to or are unable to report. This is because such cognitions might conflict with expressly-held values or beliefs, or such cognitions may be politically incorrect. Moreover, implicit cognitions reveal information that is not readily available to introspection for people with a desire to retrieve and/or express such information. Therefore, the key feature of implicit measures of attitudes is that subjects are often unaware that their attitudes are being measured and are thus unable to exert conscious control over their responses. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is a popular measure of the relative strength of associations between pairs of concepts, including positive/negative attributes and race.

A large percentage of whites harbor anti-black/pro-white biases — some 70-90%. That means that they demonstrate an implicit preference for white over black, manifest as faster responding for the white/pleasant combination than for the black/pleasant combination. These results are quite robust as seen in individual experiments with dozens of subjects as well as in web-based studies of hundreds of thousands of individuals.

Implicit racial bias is not a mere abstraction. It is linked to the deepest recesses of the mind — particularly the amygdala. The amygdala is a part of the brain that is involved in emotional learning, perceiving novel or threatening stimuli, and fear conditioning. Neuroscience research indicates that whites’ amygdalas are activated far more when they are subliminally shown black faces as compared to white faces. Moreover, the degree of amygdala activation is significantly correlated with participants’ IAT scores. Implicit racial bias is also implicated in numerous forms of seemingly benign as well as consequential behavior.

One important study that should be mentioned demonstrated how “racialized” names trigger racial schemas. Researchers responded to more than 1300 help-wanted ads in Boston and Chicago with fictitious resumes. The resumes were crafted to be comparably qualified with the only difference being that half of the resumes were randomly assigned stereotypically black names (e.g., Lakisha Washington). The other half were assigned “white” names (e.g., Emily Walsh). The white resumes received 50% more callbacks. Jerry Kang (UCLA law professor [and Situationist contributor]) rearticulated these results in terms of racial schemas such that employers use the names of applicants to categorize applicants into racial categories. Once the names are racially mapped, some set of negative racial meanings are automatically activated. In turn, these stereotypes and prejudices result in fewer callbacks for blacks.

Implicit racial attitudes not only predict behavior, generally; they also predict voting behavior. I think most folks can understand that political conservativism is positively correlated with automatic associations between black/bad and white/good. However, among Democrats, those who hold the least favorable implicit attitudes towards racial minorities are nearly four times less likely to prefer a racial minority candidate over a perceived white candidate. This is compared to Democrats who hold the most positive implicit views towards a racial minority candidate.

clinton-mccain.pngA voter’s implicit biases do not have to dictate how they will vote in the 2008 election or any other election. Individuals who harbor implicit biases, and who wish to be unfettered of those biases, may de-bias themselves and cast their vote based on where candidates stand on issues and not their race or gender. Current models of prejudice and stereotype reduction contend that the reduction of such attitudes require that individuals must: 1) be aware of their bias; 2) be motivated to change their responses because of personal values, feelings of guilt, compunction, or self-insight; and 3) possess cognitive resources needed to develop and practice correction. Of note, whites who are more internally motivated to reduce their levels of race bias show less implicit prejudice, whereas those who are more externally motivated display more implicit prejudice. Furthermore, repeated exposure to an admired black person (e.g., Denzel Washington) and a disliked white person (e.g., Jeffrey Dahmer) decreased the magnitude of automatic preference for whites over blacks. And this reduced race preference effect was not fleeting; it endured for at least 24 hours.

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. . . . [I]n light of this research, generally, how do I make sense of the caucuses and primaries? Political science research and accounts of the Bradley, Dinkins, and Wilder elections give some hint as to what took place in Iowa in and New Hampshire. I sense that in Iowa, given that caucuses are conducted such that others are aware of your vote, Whites were less apt to be guided by implicit bias and vote for the White candidates, because they had to be publicly accountable for their votes. In the New Hampshire primary, no public accountability took place and thus no checking of implicit attitudes at the door. Additionally, part of what might explain New Hampshire is the noted study on exposure to liked (Black) and disliked (White) persons. Obama and Clinton were near polar opposites on the likeability spectrum, which may have abated some Whites implicit racial attitudes vis-à-vis he and Clinton. However, her noting during the New Hampshire debate that she was hurt by not being “liked” by voters and then tearing-up at the café, she served to humanize herself. In doing so, she may have unwittingly washed out the effect of this Black (liked)/White (disliked) contrast and its diminishing effect on Whites’ implicit racial bias.

Lastly, what has likely gotten Obama this far among Whites is their efforts to check their implicit biases at the door when caucusing or voting during primaries. If South Carolina is any indication, however, he still has a long way to go. It seems that he may be able too broaden his appeal among White voters, but he is short on time. If Whites with egalitarian beliefs wanted to truly consider Obama’s candidacy free of implicit racial bias, many could, but Obama’s difficulty is that neither he nor his campaign can directly raise the issue of White “prejudice” dampening his votes among them. It would be nice if Whites knew their implicit racial biases (by taking the IAT) and then sought to square those biases with their professed, non-racist attitudes. In addition to various forms of external debiasing, I think this is the only way Obama truly has a shot at the presidency.

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To visit the Project Implicit website and find out more about implicit associations, click here. Click here to take the “PRESIDENTIAL CANDITATES IAT.” To review previous Situationist posts discussing implicit associations click on the “Implicit Associations” category in the right margin or, for a list of such posts, click here.

For a sample of previous posts examining situational elements of voting or, specifically, the 2008 presidential election, see On Being a Mindful Voter,”Lopez-Torres, Justice Scalia, and the Situation of Elections,” “Heart Brain or Wallet?” “Your Brain on Politics,” “Al Gore – The Situationist” and “Irrelevant Third Options in Presidential Campaigns.”

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