“Eric Uhlmann and Geoffrey Cohen have demonstrated that when a person believes himself to be objective, such belief licenses him to act on his biases. In one study, they had participants choose either the candidate profile labeled “Gary” or the candidate profile labeled “Lisa” for the job of factory manager. Both candidate profiles, comparable on all traits, unambiguously showed strong organization skills but weak interpersonal skills. Half the participants were primed to view themselves as objective. The other half were left alone as control. Those in the control condition gave the male and female candidates statistically indistinguishable hiring evaluations. But those who were manipulated to think of themselves as objective evaluated the male candidate higher (M=5.06 versus 3.75, p=0.039, d=0.76). Interestingly, this was not due to a malleability of merit effect, in which the participants reweighted the importance of either organizational skills or interpersonal skills in order to favor the man. Instead, the discrimination was caused by straight-out disparate evaluation, in which the Gary profile was rated as more interpersonally skilled than the Lisa profile by those primed to think themselves objective (M=3.12 versus 1.94, p=0.023, d=0.86). In short, thinking oneself to be objective seems ironically to lead one to be less objective and more susceptible to biases. Judges should therefore remind themselves that they are human and fallible, notwithstanding their status, their education, and the robe.”

Source: Hon. Mark W. Bennett, Devon Carbado, Pam Casey, Jerry Kang,  et al. “Implicit Bias In The Courtroom.” 56 UCLA L. Review 1124, 1173. 2012.


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