The imagination model of implicit bias
We can understand implicit bias as a person’s disposition to evaluate members of a social group in a less (or more) favorable light than members of another social group, without intending to do so. If we understand it this way, we should not presuppose a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how implicit cognitive states lead to skewed evaluations of other people. The focus of this paper is on implicit bias in considered decisions. It is argued that we have good reasons to assume that imagination plays a vital role in decision making. If this assumption is correct, it offers an explanation for implicit bias in many considered decisions: Human beings who have been frequently exposed to stereotypes have stereotype-congruent expectations as part of their background knowledge. They feed into their imagination, sometimes without their awareness. This model would allow us to explain the key characteristics of implicit bias without recurring to any unconscious attitudes over and above such background knowledge.
KeywordsImplicit bias Stereotypes Imagination Social cognition
Earlier versions of this paper were presented at a workshop on implicit attitudes at KWI Essen, at SWIP Germany’s jour fixe at HU Berlin, at the 4th mental fragmentation workshop at Graz University, and at the ECAP9 at LMU Munich. I thank all audiences for helpful discussions. I also thank Christine Bratu, Katja Crone, Lena Kästner, Andrea Lailach, Francesco Marchi, Nora Olbrisch, and last, but not least, an anonymous reviewer, for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.
- Briñol, P., Petty, R., & McCaslin, M. (2008). Changing attitudes on implicit versus explicit measures: What is the difference? In R. Petty, R. Fazio, & P. Briñol (Eds.), Attitudes: Insights from the new implicit measures (pp. 285–326). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Fazio, R. H., & Olson, M. A. (2007). Attitudes: Foundations, functions and consequences. In M. A. Hogg & J. Cooper (Eds.), The Sage handbook of social psychology (pp. 139–160). London: SAGE.Google Scholar
- Gawronski, B., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2011). The associative-propositional evaluation model. Theory, evidence, and open questions. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 59–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-385522-0.00002-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gendler, T., & Kovakovich, K. (2005). Genuine rational fictional emotions. In M. Kieran (Ed.), Contemporary debates in aesthetics and the philosophy of art (pp. 241–253). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Holroyd, J. (2016). What do we want from a model of implicit cognition? (digital preprint/draft). In Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 116(2). https://www.aristoteliansociety.org.uk/pdf/holroyd.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2016.
- Kurdi, B., Seitchik, A., Axt, J., Carroll, T., Karapetyan, A., Kaushik, N., et al. (2018). Relationship between the implicit association test and intergroup behavior: A meta-analysis. Open Science Framework. June 20. https://osf.io/ryjva. Accessed January 24, 2019.
- Lai, C. K., Forscher, P. S., Axt, J., Ebersole, C. R., Herman, M., & Nosek, B. A. (2017). A meta-analysis of change in implicit bias. Open Science Framework. February 17. https://osf.io/awz2p. Accessed January 24, 2019.
- Lai, C. K., Marini, M., Lehr, S. A., Cerruti, C., Shin, J.-E. L., Joy-Gaba, J. A., et al. (2014). Reducing implicit racial preferences: I. A comparative investigation of 17 interventions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(4), 1765–1785. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Liao, S., & Gendler, T. (2019). Imagination. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Spring 2019 Edition) (forthcoming). https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2019/entries/imagination/. Accessed January 24, 2019.
- Nanay, B. (2016a). Mental imagery. Video blog hosted by The Brains Blog. First Video. http://philosophyofbrains.com/2016/05/02/how-should-we-use-the-concept-of-mental-imagery.aspx. Accessed February 22, 2019.
- Schank, R. C., & Abelson, R. P. (1977). Scripts, plans, goals and understanding. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Singal, J. (2017). Psychology’s favorite tool for measuring racism isn’t up to the job. New York Magazine/Science of Us. Published January 11, 2017. http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/01/psychologys-racism-measuring-tool-isnt-up-to-the-job.html. Accessed January 25, 2017.
- Uhlmann, E. L., & Cohen, G. (2005). Constructed criteria: Redefining merit to justify discrimination. Psychological Science, 16(6), 474–480.Google Scholar
- Van Leeuwen, N. (2016a). Imagination and action. In A. Kind (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of philosophy of imagination (pp. 286–299). London: Routledge.Google Scholar