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Many individuals, in particular young progressives, incorporate their attitudes on gender and race into their identity. I am wondering if people who consider themselves socially conscious in this respect are less likely to show implicit bias as measured by the implicit association test (IAT). For example, do people who frequently and openly discuss and defend LGBT rights show less implicit bias (or reverse bias) towards LBGT individuals?

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The relationship between implicit bias and individual behaviour is not direct and does not satisfactorily explain biased behaviour on an individual basis.

There are two studies that looked at cardiovascular disease, which does propose some interesting hypotheses. These studies add to the growing evidence that bias whether implicit or explicit is significant at a group or community level instead of at an individual basis. This 2014 a study of 503 cardiologists by Daugherty et al. performed implicit gender bias test and asked the cardiologists to go through a clinical vignette. The differences the recommendations in the clinical vignette according to gender was not wholly explained by the differences in the implicit bias test. We know there is a bias against aggressive management of heart disease in women by cardiologists in general by previous studies.

  • The utility of secondary stress testing after an abnormal exercise treadmill test was rated as “high” more often for female than male patients (32.8% versus 24.3%, P=0.04); this difference did not vary with implicit bias. Angiography was more consistently rated as having “high” utility for male versus female patients (part 1: 19.7% versus 9.8%; part 2: 73.7% versus 64.3%; P<0.05 for both); this difference was larger for cardiologists with higher implicit gender bias on risk taking (P=0.01)

At a community level however, there is a strong correlation between communities that have a high level of black racial bias and higher rates of black deaths from circulatory diseases. This 2016 study by Leitner et al mapped over 1.4 million responses of white participants to US counties through a national survey and found that counties with high rates of implicit and explicit bias against blacks had far higher rates of "circulatory disease and in circulatory-disease-related death rates" than counties with lower racial bias. Although this study does not solely focus on implicit racial bias, (it included explicit racial bias), it does provide food for thought.

  • (I)n counties with high (1 SD above the mean) explicit racial bias, the difference between Blacks’ and Whites’ death rates was 62 deaths per 100,000. In contrast, in counties with low (1 SD below the mean) explicit bias, the difference was 35 deaths per 100,000... We made this estimate at the average Black population level in counties for which we had death-rate data for Blacks (average Black population = 28,598); 11 more Blacks per county were predicted to die annually in high-explicit-bias counties (95 deaths) than in low-explicit-bias counties (84 deaths).

References:

Daugherty Stacie L., Blair Irene V., Havranek Edward P., Furniss Anna, Dickinson L. Miriam, Karimkhani Elhum, … Masoudi Frederick A. (n.d.). Implicit Gender Bias and the Use of Cardiovascular Tests Among Cardiologists. Journal of the American Heart Association, 6(12), e006872. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.117.006872

Leitner, J. B., Hehman, E., Ayduk, O., & Mendoza-Denton, R. (2016). Blacks’ Death Rate Due to Circulatory Diseases Is Positively Related to Whites’ Explicit Racial Bias: A Nationwide Investigation Using Project Implicit. Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616658450

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