58 Emory L.J. 1053 (2008-2009)
(How) Does Unconscious Bias Matter: law, Politics, and Racial Inequality

handle is hein.journals/emlj58 and id is 1065 raw text is: EMORY LAW JOURNAL
Volume 58               2009                  Number 5

ARTICLES
(HOW) DOES UNCONSCIOUS BIAS MATTER?: LAW,
POLITICS, AND RACIAL INEQUALITY
Ralph Richard Banks*
Richard Thompson Ford*
ABSTRACT
During the past several years, psychological research on unconscious
racial bias has grabbed headlines, as well as the attention of legal scholars.
The most well-known test of unconscious bias is the Implicit Association Test
(IAT), a sophisticated and methodologically rigorous computer-administered
measure that has been taken by millions of people and featured in major
media. Its proponents contend that the IAT reveals widespread unconscious
bias against African Americans, even among individuals who believe
themselves to be free of racial bias.
In fact, however, the findings of the IAT are ambiguous. The test could just
as plausibly be thought to measure racial bias that is simply covert, known to
oneself yet intentionally concealed from researchers. On this interpretation,
the IAT reveals not that individuals are more biased than they realize, but that
they are more biased than they want others to know. The characterization of

Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law, Stanford Law School.
George E. Osborne Professor of Law, Stanford Law School.

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