Do theories of implicit race bias change moral judgments?

Social Justice Research 23:272-289 (2010)
Recent work in social psychology suggests that people harbor “implicit race biases,” biases which can be unconscious or uncontrollable. Because awareness and control have traditionally been deemed necessary for the ascription of moral responsibility, implicit biases present a unique challenge: do we pardon discrimination based on implicit biases because of its unintentional nature, or do we punish discrimination regardless of how it comes about? The present experiments investigated the impact such theories have upon moral judgments about racial discrimination. The results show that different theories differ in their impact on moral judgments: when implicit biases are defined as unconscious, people hold the biased agent less morally responsible than when these biases are defined as automatic (i.e., difficult to control), or when no theory of implicit bias is provided.
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