The imagination model of implicit bias

Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1611-1633 (2020)


We can understand implicit bias as a person’s disposition to evaluate members of a social group in a less favorable light than members of another social group, without intending to do so. If we understand it this way, we should not presuppose a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how implicit cognitive states lead to skewed evaluations of other people. The focus of this paper is on implicit bias in considered decisions. It is argued that we have good reasons to assume that imagination plays a vital role in decision making. If this assumption is correct, it offers an explanation for implicit bias in many considered decisions: Human beings who have been frequently exposed to stereotypes have stereotype-congruent expectations as part of their background knowledge. They feed into their imagination, sometimes without their awareness. This model would allow us to explain the key characteristics of implicit bias without recurring to any unconscious attitudes over and above such background knowledge.

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Anna Welpinghus
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Citations of this work

Implicit Bias.Michael Brownstein - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Structure of Bias.Gabbrielle M. Johnson - 2020 - Mind 129 (516):1193-1236.
The Rational Dynamics of Implicit Thought.Brett Karlan - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

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