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Interventions designed to reduce implicit prejudices and implicit stereotypes in real world contexts: A systematic review


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Background Implicit biases are present in the general population and among professionals in various domains, where they can lead to discrimination. Many interventions are used to reduce implicit bias. However, uncertainties remain as to their effectiveness. Methods We conducted a systematic review by searching ERIC, PUBMED and PSYCHINFO for peer-reviewed studies conducted on adults between May 2005 and April 2015, testing interventions designed to reduce implicit bias, with results measured using the Implicit Association Test (IAT) or sufficiently similar methods. Results 30 articles were identified as eligible. Some techniques, such as engaging with others’ perspective, appear unfruitful, at least in short term implicit bias reduction, while other techniques, such as exposure to counterstereotypical exemplars, are more promising. Robust data is lacking for many of these interventions. Conclusions Caution is thus advised when it comes to programs aiming at reducing biases. This does not weaken the case for implementing widespread structural and institutional changes that are multiply justified. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s40359-019-0299-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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R E S E A R C H A R T I C L E Open Access
Interventions designed to reduce implicit
prejudices and implicit stereotypes in real
world contexts: a systematic review
Chloë FitzGerald
, Angela Martin
, Delphine Berner
and Samia Hurst
Background: Implicit biases are present in the general population and among professionals in various domains,
where they can lead to discrimination. Many interventions are used to reduce implicit bias. However, uncertainties
remain as to their effectiveness.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review by searching ERIC, PUBMED and PSYCHINFO for peer-reviewed
studies conducted on adults between May 2005 and April 2015, testing interventions designed to reduce implicit
bias, with results measured using the Implicit Association Test (IAT) or sufficiently similar methods.
Results: 30 articles were identified as eligible. Some techniques, such as engaging with othersperspective, appear
unfruitful, at least in short term implicit bias reduction, while other techniques, such as exposure to
counterstereotypical exemplars, are more promising. Robust data is lacking for many of these interventions.
Conclusions: Caution is thus advised when it comes to programs aiming at reducing biases. This does not weaken
the case for implementing widespread structural and institutional changes that are multiply justified.
Keywords: Implicit prejudice, Implicit stereotype, Implicit bias, Unconscious bias, Interventions, Training, Professional ethics
A standard description of implicit biases is that they are
unconscious and/or automatic mental associations made
between the members of a social group (or individuals
who share a particular characteristic) and one or more
attributes (implicit stereotype) or a negative evaluation
(implicit prejudice). Implicit prejudices are distinguished
from implicit stereotypes in psychology: an implicit
prejudice is supposedly a hottergeneric positive or
negative feeling associated with a category, e.g. pleasant/
white; an implicit stereotype involves a more belief-like
association between a concept that is still valenced, but
has fuller descriptive content, and a category, e.g. men-
tally agile/white. Although the distinction between impli-
cit stereotypes and implicit prejudices is not as clear or
necessarily as useful as much of the psychological litera-
ture assumes [1], it is important to track the distinction
when analysing empirical findings because it can affect
the results substantially. For example, Sabin and col-
leagues found that paediatricians demonstrated a weak
implicit anti-black race prejudice (Cohens d = 0.41), but
a moderate effect of implicit stereotyping, in which a
white patient was more likely associated with medical
compliance than a black patient (Cohens d = 0.60) [2].
The term implicit bias is typically used to refer to both
implicit stereotypes and implicit prejudices and aims to
capture what is most troubling for professionals: the
possibility of biased judgement and of the resulting
biased behaviour. Psychologists often define bias broadly;
for instance, as the negative evaluation of one group
and its members relative to another[3]. However, on an
alternative definition of bias, not all negative evaluations
of groups would count as implicit biases because they
are not troubling for our equity concerns. For instance, I
might have a negative feeling associated with fans of
heavy metal music a negative implicit prejudice to-
wards them. However, the fans of heavy metal music, as
far as we are aware, are not a disadvantaged group, thus
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( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
* Correspondence:
iEH2 (Institute for Ethics, History and the Humanities), Faculty of Medicine,
University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
FitzGerald et al. BMC Psychology (2019) 7:29
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this implicit prejudice would not count as an implicit
bias on this alternative definition. We thus stipulate that
an implicit association (prejudice or stereotype) counts
as implicit bias for our purposes only when it is likely to
have a negative impact on an already disadvantaged
group; e.g. if someone has an implicit stereotype associ-
ating young girls with dolls and caring behaviour, this
would count as an implicit bias. It does not fit the psy-
chologistsdefinition above because it is not a negative
evaluation per se, but it is an association that creates a
certain image of girls and femininity that can prevent
them from excelling in areas that are traditionally con-
sidered masculinesuch as mathematics [4], and in
which they already suffer discrimination. An example of
an implicit prejudice that counts as a bias on our defin-
ition would be an association between negative feelings
and homosexual couples - a negative implicit prejudice.
This could disadvantage a group that already suffers dis-
crimination and it thus qualifies as an implicit bias.
There has been much recent interest in studying the
effects of implicit bias have on behaviour, particularly
when that may lead to discrimination in significant areas
of life, such as health care, law enforcement, employ-
ment, criminal justice, and education. Differing out-
comes correlated with race, gender, sexual orientation,
nationality, socio-economic status, or age, in these areas
are likely to be partly the result of implicit biases, rather
than or in addition to explicit prejudice or stereotyping.
Given this fact, society has an interest in finding ways to
reduce levels of implicit biases among the general popu-
lation and among professionals who work in these areas
in particular.
There is currently a growing awareness of implicit
biases, particularly in the English-speaking world, and
increasing attempts to counter them in professional set-
tings. However, we found a lack of systematic evaluation
of the evidence for the effectiveness of different inter-
ventions to reduce implicit bias.
In contrast to the recent study conducted by Forscher
et al. [5], which used a technique new to psychology
called network meta-analysis, and examined the effect-
iveness of procedures to change implicit bias, our focus
was solely on the reduction of implicit social prejudice
and implicit stereotypes, and only on those interventions
that would be applicable in real world contexts and that
were tested using the most widely employed implicit
measure, the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and similar
measures. Forscher et al.s scope was wider because they
investigated all changes in implicit biases of all kinds,
admitted studies employing a variety of implicit mea-
sures, and did not restrict types of intervention.
Despite an unclear evidence base for their usefulness,
interventions and training sessions to reduce implicit bias
are being offered in the English-speaking world. Our
review was partly prompted by this fact. Interventions that
are not designed based on empirical evidence have the po-
tential to do more harm than good. For instance, when
people are told to avoid implicit stereotyping it can actually
increase their biases [6,7]. Ineffective training sessions may
give participants and companies false confidence when in
fact the training has had no ameliorative effect. False confi-
dence in this area is particularly problematic because there
is evidence that being asked to reflect on instances where
one has behaved in an unbiased manner actually increases
implicit bias, while reflecting on presumed failures to be
unbiased reduces it [8].
We conducted a systematic review of studies measur-
ing the effects of interventions to reduce implicit biases
in adults as measured by the IAT. Interventions had to
be fairly easily applicable to real life scenarios, such as
workplace or healthcare settings. We concentrated solely
on implicit biases because interventions that target ex-
plicit biases may leave implicit prejudices and stereo-
types intact. Given the wide variety of interventions
tested using different methods, a systematic review was
more apt than a meta-analysis. This variety in the litera-
ture is what prompted Forscher et al. to use a novel
form of meta-analysis, called network meta-analysis,
which had never previously been used in psychology.
To this date, the most broadly recognized measure of
implicit biases is the IAT. The IAT is usually adminis-
tered as a computerized task where participants must
categorize negatively and positively valenced words to-
gether with either images or words, e.g. white faces and
black faces for a Race IAT. The tests must be performed
as quickly as possible. The relative speed of association
of black faces with positively-valenced words (and white
faces and negatively-valenced words) is used as an indi-
cation of the level of anti-black bias [9].
Since its creation, the IAT has been subject to analysis
and criticism as a measuring tool in the academic world [5,
10,11] and, more recently, in the wider media [12,13],
where its utility as a predictor of real-world behaviour is
questioned. Some valid criticisms of the IAT are against un-
wise uses of it or against interpretations of results obtained
with it, rather than against the measure itself. Caution
about how to use and interpret the IAT has been advised
by its own creators, such as Brian Nosek, who in 2012
warned against using it as a tool to predict individual be-
haviour, for example [14]. The fact that it is does not have a
high test-retest reliability in the same individual is widely
known among researchers who use it. For that reason, it
is not useful as a tool to label individuals e.g. as an
implicit sexistor to predict their individual behav-
iour. However, the creators of the IAT frequently use
it as a tool to compare levels of implicit prejudice/im-
plicit stereotype in different populations and see how
this correlates with differences in behaviour [15].
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The results of the IAT are highly context specific, as
much research shows [16]. That does not mean that it has
no validity or no connection to behaviour, just that we need
more research to better understand exactly what it is meas-
uring and how that relates to behavioural outcomes. Chal-
lenges are to be expected when trying to measure a
construct that is outside conscious awareness. The connec-
tion between all measures of psychological attitudes and be-
haviour is complex, as is the case with self-report
questionnaires, designed to measure explicit attitudes. In
fact, implicit attitude tests partly came about as a result of
the ineffectiveness of self-report measures to predict behav-
iour. Even if the most extreme criticisms of the IAT were
true and the constructs it measured had very little effect on
behaviour, we would expect a virtuous person who finds
discrimination based on race abhorrent to be disturbed to
discover that she automatically associates a historically
oppressed race that still suffers discrimination with negative
qualities. Professionals with integrity should thus be con-
cerned to eliminate psychological associations that belie
their moral principles.
Our research question was: which interventions have
been shown to reduce implicit bias in adults? ERIC,
PUBMED, PSYCHINFO were searched for peer reviewed
studies published in English between May 2005 and
April 2015. Our full search strategies are included in the
Additional file 1.
Study eligibility
Studies were included if they were written in English, par-
ticipants were either all adults (over 18) or the average age
was over 18, and they were published in peer-reviewed
journals. We excluded minors because we were interested
in interventions that would be applicable in workplaces,
thus on adults. The intervention had to be a controlled
intentional process conducted with participants in an ex-
perimental setting, with the aim of reducing an implicit
prejudice or implicit stereotype. We limited our research
to social stereotypes and prejudices against people, as op-
posed to animals, inanimate objects, etc. Prejudices and
stereotypes had to involve pre-existing associations thus
excluding novel associations. They also had to be against a
specific target thus excluding more generalized outgroup
prejudice. An outgroup, in contrast to an ingroup, is any
group to which a person does not feel that she belongs, a
theyas opposed to a we.[17]
In an optimal experimental design, an implicit pre-test
and post-test would be conducted on the same subjects
in addition to the inclusion of a control group. However,
since this is rarely found in the literature, we included
articles where the effect was measured in comparison to
a control group with similar characteristics. An advantage
of a design using only a control group is that it elimi-
nates any concern about a training effect occurring in par-
ticipants between performing the IAT pre- and post-test.
The effect of the intervention had to be measured
using a valid implicit measure before and after the inter-
vention. In order for results to be comparable, we only
included studies employing the most frequently used
measure, the IAT, or a measure derived from or concep-
tually similar to it, such as the SC-IAT (Single Category
Implicit Association Test), GNAT (Go/No-go Associ-
ation Task, BIAT (Brief Implicit Association Test).
Paper-based or computer versions of these tests were
permitted. The IAT is the most widely used measure,
and thus the most criticized and tested measure. We
needed to select one implicit measure because different
measures, such as affective priming, potentially measure
different psychological constructs.
The intervention had to be applicable to real-world
contexts and thus of a length and kind that enabled it
to be easily implemented in different areas where impli-
cit bias is a potential problem (e.g. medicine, general
education, police force, legal professions and judiciary,
human resources). The ease of implementation criter-
ion is a matter of judgment, but comparisons can be
made with similar types of training, such as sexual har-
assment training. If the intervention could be adapted
to make a programme of similar length to that of
current trainings typically provided in these areas, it
was deemed suitable. This criterion ruled out observa-
tions drawn from natural settings that could potentially
be used to develop interventions (e.g. correlations be-
tween increased contact with the outgroup and reduced
bias). Many articles were excluded on this basis. It also
ruled out long-term interventions involving consider-
able time and emotional commitment from partici-
pants. For instance, if an intervention had involved
weekly attendance at a course over the course of a year
(not simply changes in studentscurricula), we would
have excluded it. As it happens, no interventions
needed to be excluded for this reason.
We also excluded interventions that were too invasive in
apersons private life or over a persons bodily autonomy,
such as forcing people to make new friends, drink alcohol
at work to reduce biases, or direct brain stimulation. There
remains a grey zone when it comes to invasiveness that is
open to cultural difference (e.g. whether being touched by a
person of the outgroup is considered invasive).
The effectiveness of the intervention in reducing levels
of implicit bias had to be initially tested within a max-
imum of one month from the intervention. This did not
rule out further testing after this initial test. Since we
were interested in interventions that reduce bias, we ex-
cluded interventions undertaken with the aim of increas-
ing an implicit prejudice or stereotype.
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Study selection
The study selection process is illustrated in Fig. 1. Three
reviewers, Angela Martin (AM), Chloë FitzGerald (CF)
and Samia Hurst (SM), reviewed the 1931 titles resulting
from the database searches. At least two of the three
independently screened each title. Screening involved
proposing the rejection of titles if there was a clear indi-
cation that the study did not fulfil our inclusion criteria.
The titles that were agreed by both reviewers, or in case
of uncertainty, by all three reviewers, after discussion to
be ineligible according to the inclusion criteria were dis-
carded (1600) and the abstracts of the remaining 331 ar-
ticles were independently screened by at least two of the
three reviewers. Abstracts that were agreed by both
reviewers to be ineligible according to the inclusion cri-
teria were discarded (169). When the ineligible abstracts
were discarded, the remaining 162 articles were read and
independently screened by at least two of the reviewers.
After discussion, their decision on whether the article
should be included was recorded and reviewed by the
third reviewer who had not initially screened the article.
SH reviewed the statistical analyses in the remaining 32
studies, which resulted in 2 articles being discarded due
to lack of information about the statistical methods used.
The final number of eligible articles was 30. However,
one of the included articles [18] was in fact a competi-
tion organized to test different interventions created by
different authors and thus involved 18 different inter-
ventions tested several times.
Data collection process
We based our inclusion criteria on the published results.
If the data and methods used to calculate the results
were not available in the article, we did not attempt to
contact the authors to obtain this information. CF and
AM independently extracted the data from the articles
and each reviewed the others data when extraction was
complete. All disagreements with the information ex-
tracted were resolved through discussion.
Identified studies
As shown in Table 1, there are a total of 30 eligible arti-
cles. We have included the 18 interventions designed by
different authors as part of a competition, all described
in a single article [18], as separate entries to aid compre-
hension of the table, thus making a total of 47 different
interventions tested. When there are slightly different
eligible studies within one article, they are listed separ-
ately in the table only when the modifications produced
a result that was different from the original study (in
terms of being effective or ineffective at reducing bias).
We divided the interventions into 8 categories based
on their psychological features. We used as our starting
point modified versions of the 6 categories that had been
created by the authors of the competition article of 17
interventions [18] and added two new categories. There
are many different ways in which interventions can po-
tentially be classified and we chose to base our categor-
ies on the ones already used in the competition article to
facilitate discussion within the discipline. These categor-
ies are neither exhaustive nor completely exclusive. Our
categories of intervention are:
1. Engaging with othersperspective, consciousness-
raising or imagining contact with outgroup par-
ticipants either imagine how the outgroup thinks
and feels, are made aware of the way the outgroup
Fig. 1 Study selection
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Table 1 Articles included in systematic review
Type of intervention Reference Country Bias Type of Intervention Effective
Engaging with others
perspective, consciousness-
raising or imagining con-
tact with outgroup
Dermody, Jones, and
Cumming 2013 [19]
Australia Sexuality: male homosexual/male
Imagined positive contact No
Turner and Crisp 2010
UK Age: young/old Imagined positive contact Yes
Religion: Muslim/non-Muslim
Rukavina et al. 2010 [21] US Obesity stereotype: fat/lazy
versus thin/motivated
Classroom & service learning
components, including
perspective taking
Swift et al. 2013 [22] UK Obesity Educational films to induce
empathy with outgroup
Devine et al. 2012 [23] US Race: black/white Multi-faceted prejudice habit-
breaking intervention including
perspective taking
OBrien et al. 2010 [24] UK, US,
Obesity Tutorial on uncontrollable
reasons for obesity (genes/
J.-L. Á. Castillo, Camara,
and Eguizábal 2011 [25]
Spain Race: Moroccan/ Native Spanish Perspective taking / imagination No
Lehr: Perspective
Taking [18]
US Race: black/ white Perspective taking / imagination No
Chen & Turner:
Imagining Interracial
Contact [18]
US Race: black/ white Imagined positive contact with
outgroup and imagined
negative contact with ingroup
Schaefer: Training
Empathic Responding
US Race: black/ white Empathy training No
Park, Felix, and Lee 2007
US Race: Arab Muslims/black Positive information about Arab-
Exposure to
Joy-Gaba and Nosek
2010 [27]
US Race: black/ white Exposure to admired black
exemplars and disliked white
McGrane and White 2007
Australia Racial: Asian/Anglo Positive outgroup exemplars Yes
Columb and Plant 2011
US Race: black/white Obama as positive black
Marini et al.: Vivid
Scenario [18]
US Race: black/ white Vivid counterstereotypic scenario Yes
Teachman: Practicing an
IAT With
Exemplars [18]
US Race: black / white Practising IATs with
counterstereotypical exemplars
Frazier: Shifting Group
Boundaries Through
Competition [18]
US Race: black/ white Game where all teammates were
positive and black and
opponents all white and
Lehr: Shifting Group
Affiliations Under
Threat [18]
US Race: black / white Study 2: Vivid post-apocalyptic
scenario with positive black
Study 3: Negative white
characters added
Kesebir: Highlighting
the Value of a
Subgroup in
Competition [18]
US Race: black/ white Positive outgroup exemplars
(famous basketball players)
Appeals to egalitarian
values (activating
Blincoe and Harris 2009
US Race: black/ white Priming tolerance, respect or co-
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Table 1 Articles included in systematic review (Continued)
Type of intervention Reference Country Bias Type of Intervention Effective
egalitarian goals). Clobert, Saroglou, and
Hwang 2015 [31]
Belgium /
Race: black/ white Priming Buddhist concepts Yes
Religion: Christian/Muslim
L. G. Castillo et al. 2007
US Race: black/white Multicultural counseling classes Yes
Joy-Gaba: Priming
Feelings of
Nonobjectivity [18]
US Race: black/ white Priming feelings of non-
Ho: Priming an
Egalitarian Mindset [18]
US Race: black/ white Priming an egalitarian mindset No
Heiphetz: Priming
Multiculturalism [18]
US Race: black/ white Priming multiculturalism Yes
Heiphetz: Considering
Racial Injustice [18]
US Race: black/ white Considering racial injustice No
Hawkins: Instilling a
Sense of Common
Humanity [18]
US Race: black/ white Instilling a sense of common
Identifying the self with the
Brannon and Walton
2013 [33]
US Race: Latino/white Cueing social connectedness
with outgroup member
Groom, Bailenson, and
Nass 2009 [34]
US Race: black/ white Embodiment in black avatars No
Gündemir et al. 2014 [35] The
Race stereotype: Dutch/high
status versus ethnic minority/low
status; Dutch/leader versus ethnic
Invoking a sense of identity with
the outgroup
Hall, Crisp, and Suen
2009 [36]
UK Race: black/white Experiment 1: Focusing on what
ingroup and outgroup have in
Experiment 2: Listing
overlapping subgroups of
ingroup and outgroup
Maister et al. 2013 [37] UK,
Race: black/ white Multisensory stimulation to
induce the feeling of ownership
over a dark-skinned hand
Peck et al. 2013 [38] Spain, Italy,
Race: black/ white Embodiment in black avatars Yes
Woodcock and Monteith
2013 [39]
US Race: black/white Ex. 1: Conditioning links
between self and black
Ex. 2: Conditioning links
between self and black
(replication and extension)
Evaluative conditioning Calanchini et al. 2013
US Race: black/ white Affirm black-positive and white-
negative picture pairings
French et al. 2013 [41] US Race: Middle Eastern/white Evaluative conditioning: Middle
Eastern faces-positive and white
faces -neutral
Kawakami et al. 2007 [42] US Race: black/white Approach/avoidance training Yes
Wojcik & Koleva:
Conditioning [18]
US Race: black/ white Study 1 & 2: Evaluative
conditioning using IAT
Study 3 & 4: Fewer trials Yes
Cerruti & Shin:
Conditioning With the
Go/No-Go Association
Task [18]
US Race: black/ white Study 1: Evaluative conditioning
using GNAT
Study 24: Fewer trials and
minor modifications
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is marginalised or given new information about the
outgroup, or imagine having contact with the
2. Identifying the self with the outgroup participants
perform tasks that lessen barriers between
themselves and the outgroup.
3. Exposure to counterstereotypical exemplars
participants are exposed to exemplars that
contradict the stereotype of the outgroup.
4. Appeals to egalitarian values participants are
encouraged to activate egalitarian goals or think
about multiculturalism, co-operation or tolerance.
5. Evaluative conditioning participants perform
tasks to strengthen counterstereotypical
6. Inducing emotion emotions or moods are induced
in participants
7. Intentional strategies to overcome biases
participants are instructed to implement strategies
to override or suppress their biases.
8. Drugs participants take a drug.
Effective interventions were those that showed a re-
duction in bias in the same individuals after the inter-
vention in a pre/post-test design, or in the group who
underwent the intervention in a control group design.
According to our criteria, the post-test had to be com-
pleted within a maximum of 1 month from the original
intervention, but this did not rule out further tests at
later dates.
The most effective categories were: intentional strat-
egies to overcome biases (all 3 interventions were
effective); exposure to counterstereotypical exemplars (7
out of 8 interventions had at least one effective in-
stance); identifying the self with the outgroup (6 inter-
ventions out of 7 had at least one effective instance);
evaluative conditioning (5 out of 5 interventions had at
least one effective instance); and inducing emotion (3
out of 4 interventions were effective). The sole study in
our drugs category was effective. The appeals to egalitar-
ian values category had 4 interventions that were effect-
ive and 4 that were not. The largest category was
engaging with othersperspective, with 11 interventions,
but a mere 4 of these were effective.
The number of studies in each category is small, thus
strong conclusions cannot be drawn from these results.
Patterns indicating clearly which methods were more
successful as interventions were not visible. There is an
indication that some directions may prove unfruitful, at
least in short term bias reduction, such as engaging with
othersperspective, while exposure to counterstereotypi-
cal exemplars seems to be the most promising form of
intervention, at least in the short term.
The country where studies were conducted was over-
whelming the United States US - (35 interventions),
which explains why black/white race was the most ex-
amined bias in our review (34 interventions). There were
3 interventions aimed at Middle-Eastern/white bias and
one each targeting Latino/white, Arab-Muslim/black
and Asian/Anglo bias. Aside from race bias, 3 interven-
tions were tested on weight bias, 2 on sexuality bias, 2
on religion bias, 1 on age bias and 1 on gender bias. 4
interventions were conducted in the United Kingdom
(UK), 2 in Australia, 1 in Spain, 1 in the Netherlands,
Table 1 Articles included in systematic review (Continued)
Type of intervention Reference Country Bias Type of Intervention Effective
Inducing emotion Huntsinger, Sinclair, and
Clore 2009 [43]
US Race: black/white Mood induction via music Yes
Huntsinger et al. 2010
US Gender stereotype: men/leader
versus women/supporter
Mood induction via music Yes
Haidt: Inducing Moral
Elevation [18]
US Race: black/white Inducing moral elevation No
Lai, Haidt, and Nosek
2014 [45]
US Sexuality: male homosexual/male
Inducing moral elevation Yes
Intentional strategies to
overcome biases (override
or suppress influence of
Wallaert, Ward, and
Mann 2010 [46]
US Race: black/white Told to avoid stereotyping on
Lai: Using
Intentions [18]
US Race: black/ white Implementation intentions Yes
Lai: Faking the IAT [18] US Race: black/ white Taught to try to fake responses
on the IAT
Drugs Terbeck et al. 2012 [47] UK Race: black/ white Single oral dose of propanol (40
mg) in a randomised, double-
blind, parallel group, placebo-
controlled, design.
Titles in bold are interventions from the competition article [18]
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and 4 interventions were conducted in several different
countries (including Belgium, Taiwan, Hungary, Italy,
Pakistan and New Zealand). There was no clear pattern
concerning whether some types of bias were more sus-
ceptible to interventions than others, given that the vast
majority of articles in our review investigated black/
white racial bias.
A majority of studies looked at implicit prejudice.
However, 5 articles looked at implicit stereotypes as well
as implicit prejudices in their interventions and 3 articles
looked only at implicit stereotypes. Of these, only 3 in-
terventions were effective at reducing stereotyping. The
stereotypes investigated were the following: fat/lazy versus
thin/motivated (3 articles); Dutch/high status versus ethnic
minority/low status; Dutch/leader versus ethnic minority/
leader (SC-IAT); men/leader versus women/supporter;
men/science versus women/humanities; Spanish/active ver-
sus Moroccan/restful; white/mental versus black/physical.
Of specific studies
Although we judged all the studies in our review of suffi-
cient quality to be included, the quality of the study design
and statistical analysis employed varied greatly. One recur-
rent problem was the fact that there was often a lack of a
proper statistical methods section and statistical tests used
were instead reported in the results [26,28,38], or even in
afootnote[46]. Some studies described their statistical
methods only minimally [19,25,29,3133].
The paucity of empirically demonstrated effective in-
terventions to reduce implicit bias and the pressure to-
wards publishing positive results [48] is likely to tempt
researchers to analyse data in a way that leads to posi-
tive results. The lack of statistical description suggests a
risk of this.
An intervention tested by one study, rather than redu-
cing implicit bias, actually increased it [34]. White partici-
pants who performed an intervention where they were
embodied by a black avatar displayed greater implicit race
bias than those who were embodied by a white avatar.
Of the field
Due to the interdisciplinarity of the subject and variety
of fields from which articles proceeded (social psych-
ology, medical ethics, health psychology, neuroscience,
education, death studies, LGBT studies, gerontology,
counselling, mental health, professional ethics, religious
studies, disability studies, obesity studies) there was a
lack of uniformity in the way that studies were de-
scribed. In many cases, neither the titles nor the ab-
stracts were very precise. They sometimes omitted to
mention whether they tested implicit or explicit atti-
tudes, a crucial piece of information e.g. [25,41]. The
distinction between implicit prejudice and implicit
stereotype, which is important in the psychological lit-
erature, was also often blurred so that stereotype was
cited in the title when the method described using an
IAT to test implicit prejudice e.g. [41]. Methods and
measures used were frequently omitted from the ab-
stract, requiring the reader to read the article in full to
gain this knowledge e.g. [31].
Many interventions were tested only on undergraduate
psychology students, who are unlikely to be representa-
tive of the general population [49].
As is true in many areas, more replication studies are
needed to confirm results. For example, two studies in
our review tested a similar intervention, involving partic-
ipants being embodied by a black avatar; while one
found that the intervention actually increased implicit
racial prejudice [34], the other found that it reduced it
[38]. There were important differences between these
two studies and the latter was not a replication study.
All the interventions that are found to be effective in
one study need to be replicated to provide confirmation.
There were some problems related to the indexing of
articles: the keywords in PSYCHINFO and PUBMED in
this field have changed frequently over the last few years
because implicit bias is an emerging field of interest and
study. Thus, indexing in databases was somewhat incon-
sistent making it difficult to capture all relevant articles
with keywords. The fact that our search terms differed
from those used by Forscher et al. [5], and that these dif-
ferences were not all accounted for by differences in re-
search question and inclusion criteria, is a sign of the
problematic variations in terminology in the field.
The effects of interventions tend to be tested only over
the short term. There were no longitudinal studies in
our review. Even if short-term changes in biases are effi-
cient, these changes will not be useful at providing prac-
tical solutions to discrimination unless they persist in
the long term.
There is a risk that the sorts of stereotypes being
studied are likely to be those that people are most
aware of, and that stereotypes that are equally or more
pernicious may be less visible and thus not be tested
for. For instance, social class stereotypes can be hard
to identify, especially given that they are not always
clearly linked to economic status and that they may
vary greatly from culture to culture. Furthermore, the
sort of intervention tested is likely to be limited in
scope to those that people think will be effective. For
example, one philosopher has argued that many re-
searchers are biased against certain effective tech-
niques for reducing biases partly because they seem
too mechanical [50]. The fact that such limited re-
sults have been found in the search for effective inter-
ventions may be caused by biases in researchers
FitzGerald et al. BMC Psychology (2019) 7:29 Page 8 of 12
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
While there are well-establish general publication
biases in favour of positive publications, [48] we did not
find this in our study as many published null results.
While several interventions aimed at reducing implicit
biases had at least one instance of demonstrated effect-
iveness, the sample size was small and we were not able
to identify reliable interventions for practical use. Thus,
currently the evidence does not indicate a clear path to
follow in bias reduction. Intentional strategies to over-
come biases, evaluative conditioning, identifying the self
with the outgroup, and exposure to counterstereotypical
exemplars are categories that merit further research.
Furthermore, caution is advised, as our review reveals
that many interventions are ineffective; their use at
present cannot be described as evidence-based.
As the authors of the competition study point out, the
interventions that were successful in their competition
had some features in common in reducing black/white
race bias: the interventions that linked white people with
negativity and black people with positivity were more
successful than the ones that only linked black people
with positivity; interventions where participants were
highly involved, which means that they strongly identi-
fied with people in the scenarios that were used, were
also successful [18]. Our category of identifying the self
with the outgroup, which included several effective stud-
ies, includes this feature of high involvement.
There are similarities between our results and those
from the recent network meta-analysis on change in im-
plicit bias conducted by Forscher et al.: they found that
procedures that associated sets of concepts, invoked
goals or motivations, or taxed peoples mental resources
produced the largest positive changes in implicit bias
[5]; two of the categories that were most effective in our
review, evaluative conditioning and counterstereotypical
exemplars, involve associating sets of concepts, and in-
terventions invoking goals or motivations would be in-
cluded in our intentional strategies category, which also
included effective interventions. Any confirmation be-
tween our review and that of Forscher et al. is of note,
especially given that we used different search terms, re-
search questions, and inclusion criteria. Forscher et al.
also found that studies measuring interventions with the
IAT rather than other implicit measures tended to pro-
duce larger changes in implicit bias. Overall, they found
great variance in the effects of the interventions, which
supports our conclusion that current interventions are
unreliable. We do not yet know why interventions work
in some circumstances and not in others and thus more
fine-grained research is needed examining which factors
cause an intervention to be effective.
So far, there has been very little research examining
long-term changes in implicit attitudes and their effects
on behaviour; the recent criticisms of the IAT men-
tioned in our introduction highlight this. Rather than in-
validating the measure, they serve to show which
directions future research with the IAT should go. In
fact, in a follow-up study conducted by the same re-
searchers as the competition study included in our re-
view, interventions that had been demonstrated to be
effective immediately were tested after delays of hours
and days and none were found to be effective over these
extended time periods [51].
To some extent, the ineffectiveness of interventions
after a longer time period is to be expected. Implicit biases
have been partly formed through repeated exposure to as-
sociations: their very presence hints at their being not only
generated but also maintained by culture. Any
counter-actions, even if effective immediately, would then
themselves be rapidly countered since participants remain
part of their culture from which they receive constant in-
puts. To tackle this, interventions may need to be repeated
frequently or somehow be constructed so that they create
durable changes in the habits of participants. More
in-depth interventions where participants follow a whole
course or interact frequently with the outgroup have been
successful [5153].
Unfortunately, this suggests that interventions of the
type most desired by institutions to implement in train-
ing, i.e. short, one-shot sessions that can be completed
and the requisite diversity boxes ticked, may simply be
non-existent. If change is really to be produced, a com-
mitment to more in-depth training is necessary.
In conducting the review, we were aware that inter-
ventions to reduce implicit biases were not sufficient to
reduce prejudice in the public in general and in profes-
sionals in different fields on the long-term. These inter-
ventions should only form part of a bigger picture that
addresses structural issues, social biases and may include
more intensive training that aims to change the culture
and society outside institutions in addition to within
them [54]. Programmes in education to address the for-
mation of stereotypes from much earlier on would be
one way to effect longer term changes. In terms of ad-
dressing workplace culture, it may be worth reflecting
on how culture changes are effected in institutions in
other instances, such as in the case of medical error
management in health care establishments. Affirmative
action programmes that increase the numbers of women
and minorities in leadership positions is one example of
a policy with the potential to change the cultural inputs
that foment implicit bias within a workplace.
Another approach that could be effective is to focus
on reducing the impact of implicit bias on behaviour ra-
ther than reducing the bias itself. Organisational policies
FitzGerald et al. BMC Psychology (2019) 7:29 Page 9 of 12
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
and procedures that are designed to increase equity will
have an impact on all kinds of bias, including implicit
bias. For example, collecting data that monitors equity,
such as gender pay gaps, and addressing disparities, or
reducing discretion in decision-making.
The majority of studies in our review only looked at
effects of interventions on implicit prejudice, without
investigating related implicit stereotypes. The lack of
investigation into implicit stereotypes is troubling. Im-
plicit prejudice is a measure of generic positive or nega-
tive implicit feelings, but it is likely that many
behaviours that lead to micro-discriminations and in-
equalities are linked to specific and fine-grained stereo-
types. This is particularly the case with gender
stereotypes, as bias towards women is not typically
linked to a generic negative feeling towards women, but
towards women occupying certain roles that are not
stereotypically feminine. For instance, one study found
that only the implicit stereotype linking men with high
status occupational roles and women with low status
occupational roles predicted implicit and explicit preju-
dice towards women in authority. Other implicit stereo-
types, linking women/home and men/career, or
women/supportive and men/agential, lacked this pre-
dictive effect [55]. Only 8 of the articles in our review
examined implicit stereotypes, but one of these found
that an intervention that was effective at reducing im-
plicit black/white race prejudice was not effective at re-
ducing the implicit stereotype black/physical vs. white/
mental [39]. Hence, it is not only important in the case
of gender to investigate the effects of interventions on
stereotypes as well as prejudice. The vast majority of
studies on race prejudice seem to assume that it is the
blanket positive/negative comparison of whites/blacks
that needs to be addressed, but it could be the case that
specific stereotypes.
A possible limitation of the review is that we included
interventions that targeted different outgroups, and one
may wonder whether interventions tested on one group
are really applicable/effective to biases towards other
groups. Indeed, if intervention X reduces the bias in
group Y, it is by no means certain that same intervention
is efficient to reduce bias against group Z. Implicit bias
may well be a heterogeneous phenomenon [56]. On the
other hand, an inefficient intervention X on group P
may be efficient if tested for some other group or bias.
Nonetheless, it is interesting to compare the types of
intervention that are tested on different biases and to
collect the evidence for interventions against different
biases in one place. Often, researchers in a field inter-
ested in a particular bias, such as health professionals
researching obesity, limit themselves to reading the lit-
erature on that bias and from their specific field and
thus may overlook much evidence that could be relevant
to their research. Furthermore, it may be that different
biases require different types of intervention, but this can
only be seen clearly if the different literatures are compared.
Current data do not allow the identification of reliably ef-
fective interventions to reduce implicit biases. As our sys-
tematic review reveals, many interventions have no effect,
or may even increase implicit biases. Caution is thus ad-
vised when it comes to programs aiming at reducing
biases. Much more investigation into the long term effects
of possible interventions is needed. The most problematic
fine-grained implicit stereotypes need to be identified and
a range of specifically-tailored interventions need to be de-
signed to combat the whole gamut of prejudices that are
problematic in our societies, not only targeting black/
white race prejudice. More research needs to be con-
ducted examining the conditions under which interven-
tions will work and the factors that make them fail.
The fact that there is scarce evidence for particular
bias-reducing techniques does not weaken the case for
implementing widespread structural and institutional
changes that are likely to reduce implicit biases, but that
are justified for multiple reasons.
Our advice for future studies in this area can be sum-
marized as follows:
Investigate the effect of interventions on implicit
stereotypes as well as implicit prejudices
Use large sample sizes
Pre-register study designs
Use key words and titles that will span disciplines
Include all relevant study parameters in the title and
Include all statistical analyses and data when
Include all the details of the study method
Investigate the long term effects of interventions
Investigate the effects of institutional/organizational
changes on implicit biases
Test interventions on a wide range of real
workforces outside universities
The title of the study lists 17 interventions, but the
authors included a comparison condition, which makes
a total of 18 interventions tested for our purposes.
Additional file
Additional file 1: Full search strategies. (DOCX 15 kb)
FitzGerald et al. BMC Psychology (2019) 7:29 Page 10 of 12
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
AM: Angela Martin; BIAT: Brief Implicit Association Test; CF: Chloë FitzGerald;
GNAT: Go/No-go Association Task; IAT: Implicit Association Test; SC-
IAT: Single Category Implicit Association Test; SH: Samia Hurst; UK: United
Kingdom; US: United States
We are very grateful to Tobias Brosch for his advice in the planning stage of
the review and to Janice Sabin and Jules Holroyd for extremely helpful
comments on the manuscript, particularly their suggestions about the
importance of focussing on organisational policy to promote equity. We
would also like to thank the librarians from the University of Geneva Medical
School library and the Psychology section of the Humanities library for their
kind help with the initial keyword searches.
The systematic review was funded by a grant from the Swiss National
Science Foundation, number 32003B_149407. The funding body approved
the proposal for the systematic review as part of a larger project. After
approval, they were not involved in the design of the study, nor the
collection, analysis and interpretation of data, nor in writing the manuscript.
Availability of data and materials
Our full search strategies for each database is available in Additional file 1 so
that the search can be accurately reproduced.
Authors contributions
AM initially researched the suitable databases, performed the searches and
organized the reviewing of the titles with supervision from CF and SH. AM,
CF and SH reviewed the titles as described in the Methods section and SH
reviewed the statistical sections. Data was extracted by AM and CF and Table
1was drafted from this information by DB. DB contributed to the selection
of categories of intervention and prompted further discussion regarding the
presentation and organization of data. CF drafted the manuscript with major
contributions from AM and input from SH. All authors read and approved
the final manuscript.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
Not applicable
Consent for publication
Not applicable
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affiliations.
Author details
iEH2 (Institute for Ethics, History and the Humanities), Faculty of Medicine,
University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Department of Philosophy,
University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.
Received: 24 December 2018 Accepted: 3 April 2019
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Supplementary resource (1)

... This is especially the case in professional settings and areas where such biases may lead to overt discrimination and poor outcomes in healthcare, law enforcement, education and additional contexts (see 83 for a review). The modulation by dance expertise of an ingroup bias that we report here highlights the importance of knowledge-based and educational interventions, training, and exposure to different art styles (or cultures, languages, or practices) to help reduce biases against the less familiar. ...
Full-text available
Is art appreciation universal? Previous evidence suggests a general preference for representational art over abstract art, and a tendency to like art originating from one’s own culture more than another culture (an ingroup bias), modulated by art expertise. However, claims about universality are difficult given that most research has focused on Western populations. Across two pre-registered and statistically powered experiments, we explore the role of culture and art expertise in the aesthetic evaluation of Indian and Western paintings and dance depicting both abstract and representational content, by inviting expert and art-naïve Indian and Western participants to rate stimuli on beauty and liking. Results suggest an ingroup bias (for dance) and a preference for representational art (for paintings) exists, both modulated by art expertise. As predicted, the ingroup bias was present only in art-naïve participants, and the preference for representational art was lower in art experts, but this modulation was present only in Western participants. The current findings have two main implications: (1) they inform and constrain understanding of universality of aesthetic appreciation, cautioning against generalising models of empirical aesthetics to non-western populations and across art forms, (2) they highlight the importance of art experience as a medium to counter prejudices.
... First, the agency might consider their organizational diversity and ways to foster equity, diversity and inclusion at an organizational level (see Onyeador et al., 2021). Additionally, it is highly encouraged that staff participate in ongoing trainings to help address race/ethnicity related implicit biases or stereotypes (Devine et al., 2012;FitzGerald et al., 2019;Fix, 2020). In line with these recommendations, the integration of culturally/racially responsive and competent policies, programing, and services to help meet the needs and responsivity factors of youth is paramount (see Ancis, 2004;National Council of La Raza, 2007;National Juvenile Justice Network, 2014;Willison et al., 2010;Youth Collaboratory, 2019). ...
Justice-involved youth are exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) at higher rates than youth in the general public, highlighting the importance of addressing childhood trauma and adversity in juvenile justice settings. A majority of ACEs research has focused on the general population and has demonstrated the long lasting negative impact of ACEs, on mental health, physical health, and engagement in health risk behaviors. Both gender and racial/ethnic differences have been identified in ACEs literature, suggesting that not all groups in society have the same likelihood of experiencing ACEs. Additionally, ACEs may also impact individuals from racial/ethnic or gender groups differently, resulting in variable outcomes. In comparison to the ACEs literature among the general public, little research has examined ACEs among justice involved youth, and even fewer studies have examined gender and racial/ethnic differences in these settings. A historical account of gender and racial/ethnic discrimination within the juvenile justice system, coupled with the feminist pathways perspective within an intersectional context, illustrates gendered racial/ethnic differences regarding pathways into the system and ongoing discrimination. To advance the ACEs literature, this dissertation explores the prevalence of ACEs as well as the relationship between ACEs, behavioral factors associated with delinquency, and recidivism within gendered racial/ethnic groups of justice-involved youth. The findings of the current study demonstrate the importance of accounting for both gender and race/ethnicity, as few studies have done so. Overall, the findings were mixed in relation to the prior literature and highlight the need for more research in this area, as few conclusions can be drawn from the current study’s findings. While more research is needed, broad policy implications are drawn from this study to help guide equitable assessment and treatment/services of trauma among justice-involved youth.
... These recommendations persist in the absence of evidence showing an associated reduction in police shootings (Engel, McManus, & Isaza, 2020); Klinger & Slocum, 2017). Yet, despite academic disagreement on this topic, U.S. law enforcement agencies spend limited training time and economic resources on questionable de-biasing reform efforts FitzGerald, Martin, Berner, & Hurst, 2019;Klinger & Slocum, 2017;Paluck & Green, 2009). These reform efforts have neither reduced the racial disparity nor the overall number of fatal police shootings (Washington Post Fatal Force Database, 2015. ...
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We endorse Cesario's call for more research into the complexities of “real-world” decisions and the comparative power of different causes of group disparities. Unfortunately, these reasonable suggestions are overshadowed by a barrage of non sequiturs, misdirected criticisms of methodology, and unsubstantiated claims about the assumptions and inferences of social psychologists.
... Role-play and vignettes are also strategies to address implicit bias [31], such as videotaped social history vignettes [32]. Although some research investigates racial bias [33] and gender bias [34] with simulated patient interactions, mixed results on the effects of implicit bias training warrant further research to identify the most promising strategies [35]. ...
Conference Paper
Although clinical training in implicit bias is essential for healthcare equity, major gaps remain both for effective educational strategies and for tools to help identify implicit bias. To understand the perspectives of clinicians on the design of these needed strategies and tools, we conducted 21 semi-structured interviews with primary care clinicians about their perspectives and design recommendations for tools to improve patient-centered communication and to help mitigate implicit bias. Participants generated three types of solutions to improve communication and raise awareness of implicit bias: digital nudges, guided reflection, and data-driven feedback. Given the nuance of implicit bias communication feedback, these findings illustrate innovative design directions for communication training strategies that clinicians may find acceptable. Improving communication skills through individual feedback designed by clinicians for clinicians has the potential to improve healthcare equity.
On February 26, 2012, a Black child, Trayvon Martin, was executed in Sanford, Florida. Seventeen months later his killer was found not guilty. This is but one example of the state's brazen disregard for Black life, rooted in the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans more than 400 years ago, and the ways in which they and their descendants were systematically tortured. Trayvon Martin's murder catalyzed the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which names and resists deeply entrenched state violence and inequities against Black people in the United States. In this manuscript we: (1) summarize examples of structural disregard for Black lives in the United States; (2) describe how this disregard is reflected in differential patterns of social inequities, morbidity, and mortality; and (3) discuss how we can better employ the BLM perspective to frame a more historicized understanding of patterns in population health and to envision ways to resist health inequities.
College students from underrepresented racial groups often experience racial prejudice and discrimination from their White peers at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). White university students may be misinformed about race and unaware of their privilege. In this study, we investigated the effects of online training that aimed to increase participants' cultural competence through multicultural knowledge, awareness of their own privilege, and skills. White college students at a PWI completed a 4‐week training program adapted from a 1‐day in‐person workshop. The training provided 1‐h weekly online sessions in which White participants (n = 72) were provided resources aimed to develop cultural competence. It utilized student‐acted role plays, reflection questions, articles, and videos to create an interactive experience for students. Results demonstrated that participants showed significant increases in cultural competence and acknowledgment of their White privilege directly following the fourth training session. Further, they exhibited decreases in racial colorblindness. This study suggests that a brief, online training may increase cultural competence in undergraduates which can potentially improve the climates of university campuses.
Background Studies report higher burnout in women faculty surgeons compared to men. However, few studies have examined underlying mechanisms for these gendered differences. Gendered differences in microaggression experiences may explain part of the relationship between gender and burnout. We aimed to investigate the relationship between gender, gendered microaggressions, and burnout and test the hypothesis that microaggressions contribute to the relationship between gender and burnout. Methods In this 2021 study, a survey was distributed to surgical faculty at 7 institutions. Variables included gender identity, race, average hours worked recently, the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory, and a modified Racial and Ethnic Microaggressions Scale to assess gendered microaggressions. To assess the relationship between surgical faculty gender and burnout, and if this relationship could be explained by microaggressions, a mediation model was tested. Results A total of 109 participants (40% female) completed the survey and were included in analysis. The hypothesized indirect effect of gender on burnout (M = 2.70/5, SD = 0.81), through gender-based microaggressions (M = 1.7/5, SD = 1.9), was significant, B = −0.25, SE B = 0.09, confidence interval (−0.44 to −0.09): women surgeons reported higher levels of gendered microaggressions, which predicted higher levels of burnout. The overall model was significant (R² = .16, F[6,102] = 3.33, P < .01). Race, specialty, hours worked, and years of experience were all not significant in the model. Conclusion Gendered microaggressions mediate the relationship between gender and burnout, providing a potential mechanism for the higher rates of burnout in women surgeons evident in prior research. These multi-institutional data provide a focus for targeted initiatives that could decrease both burnout rates and the impact of gender bias on surgical faculty.
This commentary expands the discussion of Cesario's Missing Forces Flaw by identifying and discussing variables that influence police shooting decisions but are often absent from bias-based research. Additionally, the closing identifies novel recommendations for future contextually related research.
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Using a technique known as network meta-analysis that is new to psychological science, we synthesized evidence from 494 studies (80,356 participants) to investigate the effectiveness of different procedures to change implicit bias, and their effects on explicit bias and behavior. We found that implicit bias can be changed, but the effects are often weak (|ds| < .30). Procedures that associate sets of concepts, invoke goals or motivations, or tax mental resources changed implicit bias the most, whereas procedures that induced threat, affirmation, or specific moods/emotions changed implicit bias the least. Most procedures were brief and were tested within a single experimental session, and funnel plot analyses suggested that the effects could be inflated relative to their true population values. Many procedures changed explicit bias, but to a smaller degree than they changed implicit bias. We found no evidence of change in behavior. Finally, changes in implicit bias did not mediate changes in explicit bias or behavior. Our findings suggest that changes in measured implicit bias are possible, but those changes do not necessarily translate into changes in explicit bias or behavior. We discuss potential interpretations of these findings, including the possibility that current manipulations change non-associative aspects of implicit measures and the possibility that the automatic retrieved associations do not influence explicit biases or behavior.
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Research suggests that interventions involving extensive training or counterconditioning can reduce implicit prejudice and stereotyping, and even susceptibility to stereotype threat. This research is widely cited as providing an " existence proof " that certain entrenched social attitudes are capable of change, but is summarily dismissed—by philosophers, psychologists, and activists alike—as lacking direct, practical import for the broader struggle against prejudice, discrimination, and inequality. Criticisms of these " debiasing " procedures fall into three categories: concerns about empirical efficacy, about practical feasibility, and about the failure to appreciate the underlying structural-institutional nature of discrimination. I reply to these criticisms of debiasing, and argue that a comprehensive strategy for combating prejudice and discrimination should include a central role for training our biases away.
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How do cognition and affect interact to produce action? Research in intergroup psychology illuminates this question by investigating the relationship between stereotypes and prejudices about social groups. Yet it is now clear that many social attitudes are implicit (roughly, nonconscious or involuntary). This raises the question: how does the distinction between cognition and affect apply to implicit mental states? An influential view—roughly analogous to a Humean theory of action—is that " implicit stereotypes " and " implicit prejudices " constitute two separate constructs, reflecting different mental processes and neural systems. On this basis, some have also argued that interventions to reduce discrimination should combat implicit stereotypes and prejudices separately. We propose an alternative (anti-Humean) framework. We argue that all putative implicit stereotypes are affect-laden and all putative implicit prejudices are " semantic, " that is, they stand in co-activating associations with concepts and beliefs. Implicit biases, therefore, consist in " clusters " of semantic-affective associations, which differ in degree, rather than kind. This framework captures the psychological structure of implicit bias, promises to improve the power of indirect measures to predict behavior, and points toward the design of more effective interventions to combat discrimination.
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Implicit preferences are malleable, but does that change last? We tested 9 interventions (8 real and 1 sham) to reduce implicit racial preferences over time. In 2 studies with a total of 6,321 participants, all 9 interventions immediately reduced implicit preferences. However, none were effective after a delay of several hours to several days. We also found that these interventions did not change explicit racial preferences and were not reliably moderated by motivations to respond without prejudice. Short-term malleability in implicit preferences does not necessarily lead to long-term change, raising new questions about the flexibility and stability of implicit preferences.
I argue that implicit measures are measurement outcomes that have certain functional properties. The expression "indirect measure," however, refers to an objective property of the measurement procedure, being that the researcher does not assess the attitude on the basis of a self-assessment by the participant but on the basis of another behavior. With regard to the question of why one should use implicit measures, research suggests that they do not allow one to register stable structures in memory. It is also doubtful that they provide an index of implicit attitudes. But to the extent that implicit measures reflect the automatic impact of attitudes and cognitions, they could provide a unique insight into the effects of automatic processing on real-life behavior.
The present research suggests that automatic and controlled intergroup biases can be modified through diversity education. In 2 experiments, students enrolled in a prejudice and conflict seminar showed significantly reduced implicit and explicit anti-Black biases, compared with control students. The authors explored correlates of prejudice and stereotype reduction. In each experiment, seminar students' implicit and explicit change scores positively covaried with factors suggestive of affective and cognitive processes, respectively. The findings show the malleability of implicit prejudice and stereotypes and suggest that these may effectively be changed through affective processes.
Disgust is linked to social evaluation. People with higher disgust sensitivity exhibit more sexual prejudice (Inbar, Pizarro, Knobe, & Bloom, 2009), and inducing disgust increases sexual prejudice (Dasgupta, DeSteno, Williams, & Hunsinger, 2009). We tested whether inducing moral elevation, the theoretical opposite of disgust, would reduce sexual prejudice. In four studies (N = 3,622), we induced elevation with inspiring videos and then measured sexual prejudice with implicit and explicit measures. Compared to control videos that elicited no particular affective state, we found that elevation reduced implicit and explicit sexual prejudice, albeit very slightly. No effect was observed when the target of social evaluation was changed to race (Black-White). Inducing amusement, another positive emotion, did not significantly affect sexual prejudice. We conclude that elevation weakly but reliably reduces prejudice toward gay men.
Philosophers working in bioethics often hope to identify abstract principles and universal values to guide professional practice, relying on ideals of objectivity and impartiality, and on the power of rational (individual, autonomous) deliberation. Such a focus has made it difficult to address issues arising from group-based, sociohistorical differences like race and ethnicity. This essay offers a survey of some of the major issues concerning race in the field of bioethics. These issues include a long history of racialized abuse in medical and scientific research, reproductive injustice and abuse against women of color, and persistent racial and ethnic disparities in U.S. health and health care. The essay also argues that the field of bioethics as a whole would be improved by taking the experience of racial minorities into account in all its theorizing. Philosophers can aid in this task by expanding their theoretical focus beyond questions of individual rights to questions of social justice, beyond informed consent to community collaboration, and beyond cultural competency to both structural competency and cultural humility.