Associative Priming and Implicit Bias Towards African Americans




White, Samantha T.

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Understanding racial prejudice towards African Americans using implicit measures, such as associative techniques like racial priming, provide a sensitive way to assess racial bias. In addition to understanding racial prejudice, it is also important to explore the interaction between race and gender as well as the neural correlates of these effects. This study examined the neural correlates of weapon bias against African Americans and the effect of race and gender using event-related potentials (ERPs). EEG was recorded while thirteen White participants completed a racial priming task that required them to decide whether a target preceded by a face prime was a weapon or a tool. Participants also completed 2 explicit measures: The Modern Racism Scale (MRS) and the Motivation to Control Prejudiced Reactions Scale (MCP). Analyses revealed faster response times preceded by a Black prime. ERPs to targets suggested that the P2, N2, and P3 were sensitive to prime type, being larger for Black primes, while the late positive component (LPC) was sensitive to targets, being larger for weapons. Correlational analyses revealed that increased motivations to control prejudice were associated with longer reaction times to identify targets, while MRS scores were negatively associated with LPC amplitudes to targets. These findings suggest that early latency ERPs to targets were sensitive to prime type, and the LPCs was sensitive to threat-related targets and that cue/target activity did not interact. These results could be beneficial for creating training programs nationwide for police officers.



Weapon bias, Racial bias, Implicit bias


White, S. T. (2017). <i>Associative priming and implicit bias towards African Americans</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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