Faculty Mentor

Dan McCarthy




Reaching toward an understanding of implicit racial bias

Darian Demarce*, Yasmine Robles* & J. Daniel McCarthy

*Authors contributed equally

Despite social progress, racial prejudice continues to be a pervasive issue. Self-reported (explicit) prejudice often underestimates the degree of negative racial biases due to the confound of social desirability. The Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee & Schwartz) is a popular measure in social-cognitive research to infer implicit biases that may otherwise be masked by self-reports. A criticism of the IAT, however, is that it fails to capture the contribution of multiple interacting cognitive subprocesses, including cognitive conflict and motor response inhibition. This study aims to examine implicit racial biases using a modified IAT: Participants will view photographs of African American and Caucasian faces and categorize them by race. Importantly, response boxes will be labeled congruent (e.g., Caucasian or Good) or incongruent (e.g., Caucasian or Bad) stereotypes. The time to initiate movements (latency) and deviation toward competing response options (reach curvature) will be calculated to delineate the contribution of response threshold adjustment processes and conflict monitoring, respectively. We expect that early stages of the racial categorization process will be impaired by stereotype-incongruent response categories for both ingroup and outgroup members, whereas this conflict will persist for outgroup members only during the later stage of reach execution (ongoing social conflict monitoring). These predictions are consistent with a neuroanatomical model implicating distinct contributions of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) – a region implicated in a diverse set of cognitive control processes (Shenhav, Botvinick & Cohen, 2013) – in the controlled guidance of reaching movements. These data will add to a growing body of literature using continuous reach tracking to investigate how these neural subprocesses contribute to cognitive control of behavior in across a wide variety of cognitive tasks.




Psychological Sciences


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