Implicit Bias Defined

Implicit Bias Defined

Sandra M. Donnay, Ph.D. 

  • Implicit biases are automatic and unconscious attitudes about group members that are derived from living in a culture or society.1, 3
  • Racialized implicit biases are those that people hold, about Black people or other marginalized ethnic-racial group members, due to historical and contemporary racist ideologies and/or racist policies.1, 3

Implicit Bias Power

  • The power of implicit biases are their unconscious and automatic features. Good, well-meaning, people who do not endorse racism, hold implicit biases, and therefore, can inadvertently discriminate against target group members.1
  • Implicit biases are pervasive and people in a variety of professions hold negative implicit biases about Black people. For example, educators,5 healthcare workers,2 and police officers,4, have been found to hold negative biases against Black people.

Implicit Bias Training

Implicit bias training is a popular intervention in professional contexts with the hopes that they would reduce racial disparities. Research suggests, however, that because societal cues of racism are prominent, implicit bias training must be paired with structural interventions in order to bring about equity in outcomes.3
  1. Dovidio, J.F., Kawakami, K., & Gaertner, S.L. (2002). Implicit and explicit prejudice, and interracial interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 62-68. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.82.1.62.

  2. Maina, I.W., Belton, T.D., Ginzberg, S., Singh, A., & Johnson, T.J., (2018). A decade of studying implicit racial/ethnic bias in healthcare providers using the implicit association test. Social Science & Medicine, 199, 219-229. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.05.009.

  3. Vuletich, H.A., & Payne, B.K., Stability and change in implicit bias. (2019). Association for Psychological Science, 30, 854- 862. doi: 10.1177/0956797619844270.

  4. James, L. (2018). The stability of implicit racial bias in police officers. Police Quarterly, 21, 30- 52. doi: 10.1177/1098611117732974.

  5. Tenebaum, H.R. & Ruck, M.D. (2007). Are teachers’ expecations different for racial minority than for European American students? A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 253-27

Maternal Mortality Disparities: Is Implicit Bias Training Effective?

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Implicit Bias Police Training: What Works?

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