Implicit Bias in the UK: Updating the Implicit Association Test

Prof Doc Thesis

Hearn, N. 2018. Implicit Bias in the UK: Updating the Implicit Association Test. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsHearn, N.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background. Implicit biases are responses that are influenced by automatic or unconscious attitudes, prejudices and stereotypes. They have been implicated in discriminatory thoughts, feelings and behaviours towards other groups of people, which can differ from the individual's endorsed beliefs. Trainee Clinical Psychologists (TCPs) work with diverse populations and are increasingly encouraged to demonstrate leadership on service level issues. It should therefore be considered whether biases outside of their awareness may impact their therapeutic work and other professional decisions.
Methods. A cross-sectional quantitative design was employed to compare the performance of 28 TCPs on the Implicit Association Test (IAT; a measure of implicit bias), to that of 171 members of the general population. New stimuli were created to address identified limitations in skin-tone, age, weight and sexuality categories, and a new category measuring transgender bias was developed.
Results. TCPs showed less bias overall than the general population, but these differences diminished once age and gender were accounted for. The highest level of bias in both groups was preference for light skin (D = -.42). Trainees self-reported less bias against marginalised groups, resulting in a greater discrepancy between self-reported and implicit bias amongst TCPs. Initial findings supported the validity of the Gender Identity IAT (η² = .137, p < .005).
Conclusions. This study highlights the importance of rigorous IAT design and suggests ways in which measures can be improved and updated, as exemplified by the Gender Identity IAT. The discrepancy between trainees’ self-reported bias and IAT scores have implications for clinical training, should they be replicated with a larger sample. Although further research is needed to establish how implicit bias scores translate to observable real-world behaviour, trainees should be encouraged to reflect on the potential impact of their biases on therapeutic work and service provision.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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PrintMay 2018
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Deposited20 Nov 2019
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