Awareness of implicit bias : what motivates behavior change?
Sanford, Courtney R.
Henry-Darwish, Noah K.
May 7, 2012
Informing people who believe themselves to be low-prejudiced that they are implicitly biased against certain groups may cause them to experience cognitive dissonance, feelings of guilt that arise when perceived attitudes are inconsistent with the self-concept. To reduce this guilt, people often change their behaviors to be consistent with their self-concept. In the present study, we examined the effect of giving participants predetermined feedback following a weight-based Implicit Association Test (IAT). Participants were either given no feedback, low bias feedback, or high bias feedback. We then administered a value-affirmation task, where participants were either given a self-affirmation or other-affirmation task, to determine if motivation to change evaluation of overweight and thin job applicants comes from the self or from a desire for social acceptability. We hypothesized that if participants experienced cognitive dissonance after being told that they were biased against overweight people, they would be less likely to exhibit explicit bias against the overweight target in the job-hiring task. Furthermore, we hypothesized that self-affirmation could limit behavior change. Our results indicate that while making people aware of implicit biases may help to reduce prejudiced behavior, perceptions of social expectations also affect explicit behaviors toward targeted groups.
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