Implicit Discrimination

Document Sample
Implicit Discrimination Powered By Docstoc
					                        NEWAPPROACHESTO DISCRIMINATIONt


   What drives people to discriminate?Econo-                      ciations between a target (such as an African-
mists focus on two main reasons: "taste-based"                    American) and a given attribute.
and "statistical" discrimination. Under both                         One of the most important recent research
models, individuals consciously discriminate,                     insights is that implicit attitudes can be mea-
either for a variety of personal reasons or be-                   sured. A widely used measure of implicit men-
cause group membershipprovides information                        tal processes is the Implicit Association Test
about a relevant characteristic,such as produc-                   (IAT) (AnthonyG. Greenwaldet al., 1998). The
tivity. Motivated by a growing body of psycho-                    IAT relies on test-takers' speed of response to
logical evidence, we put forward a third                          representthe strengthof theirunconsciousmen-
interpretation:implicit discrimination. Some-                     tal associations.2 IATs are used to measure a
times, we argue, discrimination may be unin-                      wide range of implicit attitudes about social
tentional and outside of the discriminator's                      groups, products, or self-identity. We illustrate
awareness.                                                        this with a race IAT.
                                                                     The race IAT is typically taken on a com-
        I. Psychologyof ImplicitAttitudes                         puter. The test-taker must quickly categorize
                                                                  words and pictures of faces that appearin the
   Most modem social psychologists believe                        center of the screen. Faces are to be categorized
that attitudesoccur in both implicit and explicit                 as African-Americanor white and words (such
modes, suggesting that people can think, feel,                    as happiness or tragedy) as good or bad. Pairs
and behave in ways that oppose their explicitly                   of categories appearon either side of the screen.
expressed views, and even, explicitly known                       If the stimulusbelongs to categories on the right
self-interests.' The preferences and beliefs that                 (left), the test-takerhits a key on the right (left)
economists typically describe as an individual's                  side of the keyboard.Each test-takercompletes
"attitudes"are what psychologists would spec-                     two versions of the task, categorizing as many
ify as "explicit attitudes,"which may or may                      as 60 differentstimuli. In one, the "compatible"
not align with the same individual's "implicit                    version, the two categories on one side are
attitudes,"defined as unconscious mental asso-                    pairedaccording a stereotype,
                                                                                     to             suchas "African-
                                                                  American"    with "bad" one corner,and"White"
                                                                  with "good"in the othercorner.In the "incompat-
   tDiscussants: Dan Black, Syracuse University; David            ible" version, the categories are pairedcounter-
Neumark, Public Policy Institute of California and Michi-         stereotypically,  such as "African-American"   with
gan State University; Shelly Lundberg,University of Wash-         "good,"and "white"with "bad."      The key insight
ington; Kerwin Charles, University of Michigan.                   of the race IAT is that an implicit bias against
   * Bertrand:GraduateSchool of Business, University of           African-Americans     shows up as a responsetime
Chicago, 5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL                  differential. Most people respondmorequicklyin
60603; Chugh: Harvard Business School, Soldiers Field             the compatible                                    is
Road, Boston, MA 02163; Mullainathan:Department of                                 pairing,whenAfrican-American
Economics, Harvard University, Littauer Center, Cam-              paired  with badratherthangood, demonstrating      a
bridge, MA 02138. This paper is based on work supported           strongermentalresponse.
by the National Science Foundation under grant no.
   1 Due to space constraints,we omit many references.See
Bertrand et al. (2005) for full references to the relevant          2 A demonstration  of the test is available online: (http://
VOL.95 NO. 2                    NEWAPPROACHESTO DISCRIMINATION                                      95

   Because people may misrepresent their ex-         of informationneeding processing. This type of
plicit attitudes,perhapsthe IAT is simply a less     "cognitive load," also occurs in the form of
"fakable"measure. However, recent neurosci-          conflicting yet simultaneous task demands and
entific studies demonstratethat conscious pro-       excessive attentionaldemands.
cessing activates different regions in the brain        In addition, social psychologists argue that
than does unconscious processing, thus these         many seemingly controllablebehaviors may be
are distinctive mental processes. One study          prone to implicit attitudes under conditions of
showed greater brain activity associated with        ambiguity, and have demonstratedthat implicit
control and regulationwhen supraliminallypro-        discriminationis more likely to occur in situa-
cessing black faces, in contrast with greater        tions where multiple, non-racist explanations
brain activity associated with emotion and fear      for the behavior might exist. Thus, some con-
when subliminally processing black faces. An-        ditions under which implicit attitudesmay arise
othershowed a correlationbetween the IAT and         are threefold:inattentivenessto task, time pres-
amygdalaactivation (fear response) in response       sure or other cognitive load, and ambiguity.
to black faces. In addition, the divergence of
implicit and explicit attitudes is not limited to     II. Can ImplicitAttitudesBe "Manipulated"?
socially sensitive domains. For example, the
social demands to conceal one's preferences             One intriguing feature of implicit attitudesis
about a Mac versus PC computer,or Coke ver-          their potential manipulability. In one study,
sus Pepsi seem minimal. Yet, implicit and ex-        white participants were told they would be
plicit attitudesin these domains are imperfectly     working with a black individual, who would
correlated,with both having predictive power.        either be their subordinate or their superior.
   Can implicit attitudes influence behavior in      Those anticipating a black superior showed
meaningful ways? Evidence to date suggests           more positive implicit attitudes toward blacks
yes. A meta-analysis of 61 studies found an          than those anticipatinga black subordinate,sug-
average correlation of 0.27 between the IAT          gesting that positive and powerful black exem-
and outcome measures such as judgments,              plars are importantcues. In another,exposure to
choices, and physiological responses. Most im-       photographs of admired African-Americans
portantly, the IAT outperformedexplicit atti-        (e.g., Bill Cosby) led to a decrease in anti-black
tude measures for less-controllable behavioral       implicit attitudes,an effect that persisted for 24
outcomes.In one study, white participants   inter-   hours. In another, reducing attention to race
acted with both a white and African-American         cues (e.g., by increasing attention required by
experimenter, also took the IAT. Participants'       the task) moderated implicit attitudes. This
implicit attitudesfavoringwhites predictedmore       work certainly does not imply that implicit at-
smiling, speaking time, extemporaneoussocial         titudes can be reversed with simple manipula-
comments, and general friendliness,as well as        tions of the situationor task. However, the work
fewer speech errorsand speechhesitation,toward       suggests malleability in implicit attitudes and
the white experimenter.                              associated behaviors.
   These findings suggest that controllability
may be an importantbehavioraldimension. But           III. InterpretingExistingAudit Studies in the
could any relevanteconomic behavior, such as a               Light of ImplicitDiscrimination
hiring decision, truly be characterizedas "hard-
to-control"?In fact, social psychologists argue         Obviously, implicit attitudes cannot explain
that even theoretically controllable behaviors       all forms of racial discrimination.Explicit dis-
may operate with greater automaticity under          crimination in employment ads prior to the
certainsituationalconditions. Chugh (2004) de-       Civil Rights Act of 1964 had little to do with
scribed the "messy, pressured,and distracting"       implicit attitudes. However, we find it reason-
conditions of managerialwork as conducive to         able to hypothesize that several other docu-
implicit mental processes. Time pressure and         mented forms of differentialtreatmentsmay, in
stress are two situational influences likely to      part, reflect such implicit attitudes.
first generate an accelerationof the mental pro-        The Bertrand and Mullainathan (2004) r6-
cess, and then an attemptto reduce the amount        sum6 task, for example, theoretically satisfies
96                                  AEA PAPERSAND PROCEEDINGS                                MAY2005

several criteriathought to be importantfor im-            IV. Testingfor ImplicitDiscrimination
plicit discriminationto arise. First, the task is
typically performedunder importanttime pres-             Hence, implicit discriminationcould poten-
sure, as the screeners have to make their way         tially explain some economic phenomena,with
through a thick pile of r6sum6s, often juggling       sufficient testing. We suggest several potential
this task with multiple other administrative          directions for future research.
loads. The task is also involves considerable            A first approachwould be to performmore
ambiguity:in the search for a "good"job appli-        correlation exercises in the field between eco-
cant, there is no such thing as a simple formula      nomic behaviorand IAT. One could contactthe
to be followed to determine which candidates          realtorsaftera fair-housingaudittook place and
are above the "fit line." Also, the typical task is   ask them to take an IAT, or contact sports-card
a nonverbal automatic process consisting in           traders studied by List (2004). Alternatively,
placing a given r6sum6either on the "yes" pile        with some creativity,one might integratea field
or on the "no" pile, with little commentary on        element within a lab study. For example, if
each r6sume.                                          taxicabs pick up subjects to bring to the lab for
   Several other field experiments may fit the        an IAT, one could correlate subjects' IAT
implicitdiscrimination  model.ConsiderIan Ayres       scores with their tipping behavior.
et al.'s (2004) finding of African-American    cab       Second, one could performadditionaltests by
driversreceivinglowertips thanwhitecab drivers.       empiricallyvarying situationalfactorsshown to
A tippingdecision is often made quickly,just as       be importantfor implicit attitudesto affect be-
the passengeris steppingout of the cab, and when      havior. For example, one could schedule an
the passenger'smind is preoccupiedwith an up-         appointmentwith a realtor either when s/he is
coming destinationor event. Finally, ambiguity        quite busy or less busy. Or one could vary the
exists in how to interpretsubtlecues aboutfriend-     level of ambiguity of the realtor's task with a
liness and honesty.                                   more-specific or less-specific descriptionof the
   Bargaining is anotherrelevant context, as in       client's desired home.
JohnList's (2004) study of discriminationin the          One could also reduce attentionto the social
 sports-cardmarket. When a prospective buyer          cues in the context of the r6sum6 study by
expresses interest in a card, the seller makes a      modifying the location of the names on re-
quick first offer. Very often, this first offer is    sum6s. Bertrandand Mullainathan     (with Abhijit
made as the seller's attention is split between       Banerjee) are currentlycarryingout such a ma-
the currentbuyer and other prospective buyers         nipulationin India in the context of caste-based
nearby.                                               discrimination. In India, it is possible for a
   Also, consider the housing audit studies doc-      given individual to have a caste-neutralname
umenting differentialtreatmentof equally qual-        but for his or her father to have a lower-caste
ified African-Americanand white home buyers           name. It is also common for an individual to
in realtors' showing of additionalunits, both in      report the father's name at the bottom of the
terms of numbers and quality (see e.g., Jan           resume. One can therefore compare callback
Ondrichet al., 2003). The realtorfaces a subtle,      rates for lower-caste people whose caste affili-
complex, and ambiguous task in forecasting a          ation is communicatedthroughtheirnames ver-
client's idiosyncratictastes.                         sus throughtheir father's names.
   A police officer's decision of whether or not         Another testing possibility is to attempt to
to shoot a potentiallyarmedtargetis taken in an       mimic natural situations in the laboratory it-
ambiguous split second. Joshua Correll et al.         self. We have started exploring this possibil-
(2002) used a videogame to show that subjects         ity in the context of the r6sum6 study.
were quicker at deciding not to shoot an un-          Specifically, we recruited 115 subjects for a
armed white target versus an unarmed black            study on information-processing and atten-
target, even though both targets were armed at        tion. The task was to screen 50 r6sum6s for a
equal rates in the context of this game. Most         company filling an administrative assistant
interestingly, the authors showed that this dif-      position (job description provided). Their task
ference was not related to cross-subjectsdiffer-      was to select the 15 best candidates. Each
ences in explicit racial prejudice.                   participant received a unique set of r6sum6s
VOL.95 NO. 2                   NEWAPPROACHESTO DISCRIMINATION                                      97

in that, following Bertrand and Mullainathan        positive exemplar (not a monitor) which could
(2004), each r6sum6 was randomly assigned           mute the importance of unconscious reactions.
either a white-sounding or African-American         Also, a more structured review process that
sounding first name. After completing this          draws attention to the task cues rather than
task, the participants took several IATs, an-       social cues (such as highlighting the positive
swered explicit attitudemeasuresaboutAfrican-       and negative aspects of each r6sum6, or evalu-
Americans, and completed a debriefing survey        ation along highly specific job criteria, rather
("how rushed did you feel ... ?"). Anonymity        than a general "fit" comparison to a broad job
on all measures was fully guaranteed to all         description).
   While our pilot testing findings are prelimi-                     V. Conclusion
nary, some encouraging results have emerged.
First, participantswho reportedfeeling rushed          However we test for it, implicit discrimina-
picked a significantlylower fractionof r6sum6s      tion is not useful simply as a subtle alternative
with African-Americannames. We also found           interpretation.If it is a powerful driver of dis-
a negative correlation between the number of        criminatorybehavior,it should reshapethe way
African-Americanr6sum6s selected by a given         we understand discrimination and alter our
subject and that subject's implicit attitudeabout   available spectrumof remedies. A key differen-
intelligence in blacks and whites (where neg-       tial feature of potential remedies to implicit
ative scores indicate an association between        discrimination is that they could limit the
African-American and dumb). Most interest-          amountof discrimination    without forcing agents
ingly, this negative correlation was concen-        to takedecisionsagainsttheirwill. In fact,because
trated among those subjects who ex post             people may be engaging in injurious behavior
reported feeling most rushed during the task.       withoutrealizingit, the remediesmay bringtheir
In contrast, we found no apparentcorrelation        decisionscloser in line with whatthey (explicitly)
between the number of African-American r6-          thinkor favor for theirorganization.  Anotherim-
sum6s picked and the self-reported explicit         portant feature of these remedies is that, unlike
attitudes towards African-Americans.                most affirmative-action  policies, they can be im-
   Obviously, such a lab exercise lacks external    plementedat low cost and without making race
validity and faces implementationproblems. In       salient,greatlyincreasingpoliticalfeasibility.
this regard, the subjects' background (mostly
undergrads)and the difficulty of providing nat-                     REFERENCES
uralisticincentives may explain one majorissue
with our pilot study so far: we did not find        Ayres, Ian; Vars, Fred and Zakariya, Nasser.
discrimination,on average, in the lab and only        "Racial Disparities in Taxicab Tipping."
those subjects who felt rushed picked a lower         Working paper, Yale Law School, 2004.
than base-ratefraction of African-Americanr6-       Bertrand,Marianne;Chugh, Dolly and Mullain-
sum6s. In the future, we hope to implement a          athan, Sendhil. "Implicit Discrimination."
similar exercise within a firm.                       Working paper, Graduate School of Busi-
   Also, once the design is perfected, we could       ness, University of Chicago, 2005.
test de-biasing remedies that emerge naturally      Bertrand, Marianneand Mullainathan,Sendhil.
from the psychological evidence. First, and           "Are Emily and Greg More Employable
most obvious, one might simply inform human-          Than Lakisha and Jamal?" American Eco-
resource managers about the existence of the          nomic Review, 2004, 94(4), pp. 991-1013.
implicit bias. Second, small changes in the sit-    Chugh,Dolly. "Why Milliseconds Matter:Soci-
uationalcontext of r6sum6screeningcould have          etal and ManagerialImplications of Implicit
potential large positive effects. Simply leaving      Social Cognition." Social Justice Research,
more time to the screenersto assess the merit of      2004, 17(2), pp. 203-22.
each r6sum6may limit the role for unconscious       Correll, Joshua; Park, Bernadette; Judd,
responses while performingthis task. Also, hav-       Charles M. and Wittenbrink, Bernd. "The
ing an African-American person in the inter-          Police Officer's Dilemma: Using Ethnicity
view room, or even in mind, may operate as a          to Disambiguate Potentially Threatening
98                               AEA PAPERSAND PROCEEDINGS                           MAY2005

  Individuals."Journal of Personality and So-      ination in the Marketplace: Evidence from
  cial Psychology, 2002, 83(6), pp. 1314-29.       the Field." QuarterlyJournal of Economics,
Greenwald,AnthonyG.; McGhee,DebbieE. and           2004, 119(1), pp. 49- 89.
  Schwartz,JordanL. K. "Measuring   Individual    Ondrich, Jan; Ross, Stephen and Yinger,John.
  Differences in Implicit Cognition: The Im-       "Now You See It, Now You Don't: Why Do
  plicit Association Test." Journal of Person-     Real Estate Agents Withhold Available
  ality and Social Psychology, 1998, 74(6), pp.    Houses from Black Customers?"Review of
  1464-80.                                         Economics and Statistics, 2003, 85(4), pp.
List, John. "The Nature and Extent of Discrim-      854-73.

Shared By: