Do Theories of Implicit Race Bias Change Moral Judgments?
- 811 Downloads
Recent research in social psychology suggests that people harbor “implicit race biases,” biases which can be unconscious or uncontrollable. Because awareness and control have traditionally been deemed necessary for the ascription of moral responsibility, implicit biases present a unique challenge: do we pardon discrimination based on implicit biases because of its unintentional nature, or do we punish discrimination regardless of how it comes about? The present experiments investigated the impact such theories have upon moral judgments about racial discrimination. The results show that different theories differ in their impact on moral judgments: when implicit biases are defined as unconscious, people hold the biased agent less morally responsible than when these biases are defined as automatic (i.e., difficult to control), or when no theory of implicit bias is provided.
KeywordsImplicit bias Moral judgment Unconscious Automatic Stereotyping Responsibility
This research was supported in part by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to C. Daryl Cameron. We thank Lawrence J. Sanna, Paul Miceli, and Lindsay Kennedy for helpful comments on this research. We also thank everyone involved in the UNC Social Psychology Organizational Research Group who provided useful feedback during presentation of this research.
- Allport, G. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Bargh, J. A. (1999). The cognitive monster: The case against the controllability of automatic stereotype effects. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), Dual process theories in social psychology (pp. 361–382). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Bargh, J. A. (2009). The simplifier: A conversation with John Bargh. Edge, 290. Accessed online at http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bargh09/bargh09_index.html.
- Damasio, A. (1994). Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York: Harper-Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
- Devine, P. G., & Monteith, M. J. (1999). Automaticity and control in stereotyping. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), Dual process theories in social psychology (pp. 339–360). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Fiske, S. T. (1989). Examining the role of intent: Toward understanding its role in stereotyping and prejudice. In J. S. Uleman & J. Bargh (Eds.), Unintended thought (pp. 253–283). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Fiske, S. T. (2005). What’s in a category?: Responsibility, intent, and the avoidability of bias against outgroups. In A. Miller (Ed.), The social psychology of good and evil (pp. 127–140). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Greene, J. (2008). The secret joke of Kant’s soul. In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Ed.), Moral psychology, Volume 3. The neuroscience of morality: Emotion, disease, and development (pp. 35–79). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Hall, D., & Payne, B. K. (2009). Unconscious attitudes, unconscious influence, and challenges to self-control. In Y. Trope, K. Ochsner, & R. Hassin (Eds.), Social, cognitive and neuroscientific approaches to self-control. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Jost, J. T., Rudman, L. A., Blair, I. V., Carney, D., Dasgupta, N., Glaser, J., et al. (2009). The existence of implicit bias is beyond reasonable doubt: A refutation of ideological and methodological objections and executive summary of ten studies that no manager should ignore. Research in Organizational Behavior, 29, 39–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Machery, E., Faucher, L., & Kelly, D. (2010). On the alleged inadequacy of psychological accounts of racism. The Monist, 93, 228–255.Google Scholar
- Malle, B. (2005). Folk theory of mind: Conceptual foundations of human social cognition. In R. Hassin, J. S. Uleman, & J. A. Bargh (Eds.), The new unconscious (pp. 225–255). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Mitchell, G., & Tetlock, P. E. (2007). Antidiscrimination law and the perils of mindreading. Ohio State Law Journal, 67, 1023–1122.Google Scholar
- Moscovici, S. (2008). Psychoanalysis: Its image and public. Cambridge: Polity Press. (Original work published 1968).Google Scholar
- Nichols, S. (2004). Sentimental rules: On the natural foundations of moral judgment. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Payne, B. K., & Cameron, C. D. (2010). Divided minds, divided morals: How implicit social cognition underpins and undermines our sense of social justice. In B. Gawronski & B. K. Payne (Eds.), Handbook of implicit social cognition: Measurement, theory, and applications (pp. 445–462). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Payne, B. K., & Gawronski, B. (2010). A history of implicit social cognition: Where is it coming from? Where is it now? Where is it going? In B. Gawronski & B. K. Payne (Eds.), Handbook of implicit social cognition: Measurement, theory, and applications (pp. 1–15). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Prinz, J. (2008). The emotional construction of morals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Shaver, K. G. (1985). The attribution of blame: Causality, responsibility, and blameworthiness. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Sinnott-Armstrong, W., Young, L., & Cushman, F. (2010). Moral intuitions. In J. Doris & the Moral Psychology Research Group (Eds.), The moral psychology handbook (pp. 246- 272). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Tallis, F. (2002). Hidden minds: A history of the unconscious. New York: Arcade.Google Scholar
- Taslitz, A. E. (2007). Forgetting Freud: The courts’ fear of the subconscious in date rape (and other) cases. Boston University Public Interest Law Review, 17, 145–194.Google Scholar
- Weiner, B. (1995). Judgments of responsibility: A foundation for a theory of social conduct. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar