Thinking in Black and White: Conscious thought increases racially biased judgments through biased face memory
SourceConsciousness and Cognition, 36, (2015), pp. 206-218
Article / Letter to editor
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Consciousness and Cognition
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
It is a common research finding that conscious thought helps people to avoid racial discrimination. These three experiments, however, illustrate that conscious thought may increase biased face memory, which leads to increased judgment bias (i.e., preferring White to Black individuals). In Experiments 1 and 2, university students formed impressions of Black and White housemate candidates. They judged the candidates either immediately (immediate decision condition), thought about their judgments for a few minutes (conscious thought condition), or performed an unrelated task for a few minutes (unconscious thought condition). Conscious thinkers and immediate decision-makers showed a stronger face memory bias than unconscious thinkers, and this mediated increased judgment bias, although not all results were significant. Experiment 3 used a new, different paradigm and showed that a Black male was remembered as darker after a period of conscious thought than after a period of unconscious thought. Implications for racial prejudice are discussed.
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