Implicit Bias and Race

Authored by: Michael Brownstein

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415711234
eBook ISBN: 9781315884424
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



In 1928 L. L. Thurstone asked 239 white male students at the University of Chicago to report their preferences between pairs of “races” and “nationalities,” such as “Greek vs. Mexican,” “American vs. Hindu,” and “Negro vs. Turk.” Unsurprisingly, one of the most discrepant responses between pairs was in the “American vs. Negro” comparison, with almost all participants strongly preferring “Americans” to “Negros.” (The very fact that Thurstone distinguished between “American” and “Negro” or “Hindu” is perhaps also unsurprising, and unsettling. See Devos and Banaji (2005) on associating “white” with “American.”) Compare this to Brian Nosek and colleagues’ finding in 2007 that in a pool of 700,000 subjects the most frequent answer to the question, “who do you prefer, black people or white people?” was “I have no preference.” The disparities between these findings underscores how dramatically explicit (i.e., verbally reported) black-white racism— white people’s prejudices and racial attitudes toward black people—has declined over the past 75 years in the United States (see also Judd et al. 1995 and Schuman et al. 1997; for discussion of implicit bias directed toward non-black members of socially stigmatized groups, such as Asians and Latinxs, see Dasgupta (2004)). Despite this, it’s clear that racial discrimination persists systematically, pervasively, and brutally in the United States. This presents a puzzle that philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, economists, psychologists, and others have considered. Why do stark racial disparities in housing and hiring, police violence and incarceration, medical treatment and health outcomes, and on and on, persist in places like the United States today, if most people’s beliefs about race have changed so much?

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.