Social Cognition & Intergroup Processes (SCIP) Laboratory

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Bias Awareness

One aspect of our work investigates the positive and negative consequences of racial bias awareness. Specifically, we examine individual differences in Whites’ awareness and concern about displaying prejudice and the social consequences of this (bias) awareness. To assess these individual differences, we developed a measure of bias awareness in which participants are asked to endorse items such as “Even though I know it’s not appropriate, I sometimes feel that I hold unconscious negative attitudes toward Blacks.” Our research shows that some White individuals are indeed bias-aware, and this awareness has important (positive and negative) consequences for intergroup attitudes and behaviors (Perry, Murphy, & Dovidio, 2015).  For example, Whites who are bias aware (relative to those who are unaware of their biases) are more likely to be attuned to others’ biases. Moreover, when high (relative to low) bias-aware Whites are told they are high (vs. low) in implicit racial bias, high bias-aware Whites are motivated by this feedback, expressing greater interest in helping maintain and recruit racial minority students to their institution. In contrast, for low bias-aware Whites this feedback reduces willingness to participate in such activities (Perry, Murphy & Dovidio, 2015). Our research further suggests that forms of anti-bias education may have some detrimental effects if the interventions increase bias awareness without also providing skills for managing anxiety. Relative to low bias-aware Whites, high bias-aware Whites express heightened intergroup anxiety, which can result in less interracial interactions or less interest in seeking contact across racial lines. Currently in the SCIP Lab we are investigating how bias awareness develops, and how this awareness affects intergroup attitudes and behavior.