Social categories such as race and gender are associated by people with certain characteristics (e.g. males are angry), which unconsciously affects how people evaluate and react to a person of specific social categories. This phenomenon, referred to as implicit bias, has been the interest of many social psychologists. However, the implicit bias research has been focusing on only one social category at a time, despite humans being entities of multiple social categories. The research also neglects the behavioral contexts in which implicit biases are triggered and rely on a broad definition for the locus of the bias regulation mechanism. These limitations raise questions on whether the current bias reduction strategies are effective. The current dissertation sought to address these limitations by introducing an ecologically valid and multidimensional method. In Chapters 1 and 2, the mouse-tracking task was integrated into the implicit association task to examine how implicit biases were moderated in different behavioral contexts. The results demonstrated that the manifestation of implicit biases depended on the behavioral context as well as the distinctive identity created by the combinations of different social categories. Chapter 3 laid groundwork for testing working memory as the processing capacity for the bias regulation mechanism. The result suggested that the hand-motion tracking indices of working memory load could be used to infer the capacity of an individual to suppress the influence of implicit bias. In Chapter 4, the mouse-tracking paradigm was integrated into the Stroop task with implicit associations serving as the Stroop targets. The implicit associations produced various effects including the conflict adaptation effect, like the Stroop targets, which suggested that implicit associations and Stroop stimuli are handled by overlapping cognitive mechanisms. Throughout these efforts, the current dissertation, first, demonstrated that a more ecologically valid and multidimensional approach is required to understand biased behaviors in detail. Furthermore, the current dissertation suggested the cognitive control mechanism as a finer definition for the locus of the bias regulation mechanism, which could be leveraged to offer solutions that are more adaptive and effective in the environment where collaboration and harmony are more important than ever.
- Multidimensional approach to implicit bias and the underlying cognitive mechanism
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Statement of Responsibility
by Hansol Rheem