LMU's Definition of Implicit Bias

Attitudes, both favorable and unfavorable, that are activated without awareness or intentional control and that are different from and sometimes in contrast to explicit, self-reported beliefs.

A large body of social science evidence has shown that unconscious, automatically activated, and pervasive cognitive associations related to race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, and other identities can impact decision-making and judgments without our awareness. These research findings have serious, far-reaching implications for individuals in a wide range of sectors.

These biases result from normal human cognitive processes are therefore applicable to everyone. They develop across the life course as a result of socialization and exposure to certain messages within a culture.

Implicit bias can affect behaviors and can result in discrimination, or the differential treatment of individuals based on their group membership. Implicit bias can also be internalized by those being targeted and can affect their performance as well as psychological and physical health.

As is the case with attitudes generally, implicit bias is malleable, and new attitudes can be learned that replace or override previously learned associations.


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Blair, I. V. (2002). The malleability of automatic stereotypes and prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6, 242-261.

Greenwald, A. G., & Krieger, L. H. (2006). Implicit bias: Scientific foundations. California Law Review, 94, 945-967.

McConnell, A. R., & Leibold, J.M. (2001). Relations among the Implicit Association Test, discriminatory behavior, and explicit measures of racial attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 435-442.

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Staats, C. (2014). State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review. Kirwan Institute. Retrieved from http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014-implicit-bias.pdf

Drafted by the LMU Implicit Bias Task Force 2016.