• Implicit bias and moral responsibility: does ingroup membership matter?

      Greiser, Melissa (2021-05)
      Implicit bias seems to be at the heart of a number of pressing societal problems. Efforts have been made to reduce bias through spreading information about implicit attitudes and implementing bias training programs. To adequately address these issues, though, greater attention needs to be given to how individuals process and respond to information about implicit bias. The current study explored moral judgments of behaviors stemming from implicit bias judgments, with a focus on gender-based discrimination. We also considered how ingroup status (sharing the same gender as the perpetrator) may affect these judgments. Participants read a short scenario about a man or woman who exhibited either implicit or explicit bias toward the opposite gender; participants then reported their judgments of the perpetrator’s moral responsibility. Results revealed that less responsibility was attributed to behavior stemming from implicit (relative to explicit) bias. Implicit bias reduced responsibility regardless of whether or not the perpetrator was an ingroup member (same gender as the participant). Additionally, both male and female participants held the male perpetrator more responsible for his actions than the female perpetrator. This research provides a clearer picture of how people evaluate implicit bias, which is central to understanding why implicitly biased behaviors often result in minor consequences for the perpetrators. Future research should seek to more fully understand how individuals process and respond to information regarding implicit bias in an effort to reduce any potential negative consequences of spreading such information and construct the most effective methods for reducing bias.