No face is an island: How implicit bias operates in social scenes

Courtney K. Soderberg, Jeffrey W. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Social psychologists have mainly studied implicit attitudes toward faces presented one at a time, whereas, in real life, we often encounter people in the presence of others. These surrounding individuals may alter attitudes toward the focal target of attention. We employed a flanker-IAT task and found that, when black and white targets were presented in racially diverse contexts, bias was decreased. This decrease in bias occurred even when targets previously seen in diverse contexts were presented on their own, suggesting context-free evaluations of the targets had been formed. Experiment 2 showed that the effect of diverse contexts does not affect bias toward a racial category as a whole, but only the specific targets previously seen in the diverse contexts. Quad model analysis (Sherman et al., 2008) revealed that these effects were related to changes in automatic evaluations, and not to changes in inhibition. Implications for implicit bias change and prejudice reduction strategies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013


  • Implicit bias
  • Process model
  • Social context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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