Training away bias: The differential effects of counterstereotype training and self-regulation on stereotype activation and application

Published on Nov 1, 2017in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
· DOI :10.1016/J.JESP.2017.06.003
Mason D. Burns5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Purdue University),
Margo J. Monteith29
Estimated H-index: 29
(Purdue University),
Laura R. Parker2
Estimated H-index: 2
(Purdue University)
Abstract A pressing issue concerns how to reduce stereotypic responses and discriminatory outcomes resulting from the operation of implicit biases. One possibility is that cognitive retraining, such as by repeatedly practicing counterstereotypes, can reduce implicit bias so that stereotype application will be reduced in turn. Another possibility involves motivated self-regulation, where people's awareness of their proneness to biased responses heightens negative self-directed affect, which in turn facilitates monitoring for biases and reduces stereotype application. These possibilities were tested across three experiments. In all experiments, participants who completed counterstereotype training subsequently scored lower on a measure of implicit bias, relative to untrained participants. In Experiments 1 and 2, counterstereotyping did not reduce subsequent stereotype application; in Experiment 3, counterstereotyping did reduce stereotype application, but this effect was not mediated by implicit bias scores. Participants in the motivated self-regulation condition (Experiments 2 & 3) were primed with their proneness to respond in biased ways, which increased negative self-directed affect among participants more internally motivated to respond without bias. Participants' degree of negative self-directed affect was not consistently associated with implicit bias scores. However, greater negative self-directed affect was associated with reduced stereotype application (Experiment 2) and greater rejection of racist jokes (Experiment 3). These results suggest that reductions of implicit bias through counterstereotype training do not, in turn, lead to reduced stereotype application. In contrast, the results support the viability of motivated self-regulation interventions that facilitate awareness of bias and heighten negative self-directed affect, thus creating the motivation to self-regulate stereotype application.
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