Find Mediators Near You:

Implicit Bias is Everywhere!

PGP Mediation Blog by Phyllis G. Pollack

Recently, I discussed an empirical study conducted by University of Hawaii Professor Justin D. Levinson and Mark Bennett, U. S. District Judge (ret.) on 239 sitting federal and state judges regarding their implicit bias towards “largely favored minority groups” (or the “Model Minority”)- Asians Americans and Jews. (Levinson, Justin D., Bennett, Mark W., and Hioki, Koichi, “Judging Implicit Bias: A National Empirical Study of Judicial Stereotypes” 69 Florida Law Review 63, 86 (No. 1, January 2017).)

What caught my interest were the footnotes. They were full of references to other studies on implicit bias. For example:

  1. Page 66, note 2 discussing “…judge dominated voir dire and the Batson challenges and how these processes exacerbate problems of implicit bias in jury selection and jury determination….”
  2. Page 66, note 2 discussing a study that “…state court judges harbor a White-Black implicit racial bias, and these biases can influence their judgment.”
  3. Page 66, note 4 discussing a “finding that physicians held implicit racial biases against African-Americans that affected treatment recommendations, but no similar predictive validity was found by asking doctors about their explicit racial biases.” (See also, page 76, note 55 “discussing the threat of implicit bias to medical decision-making, the physician-patient relationship and quality of care….”)
  4. Page 67, note 10 discussing a “… finding that college-age participants and police officers were quicker to correctly shoot armed Black targets and to indicate “don’t shoot” for unarmed Latino, Asian and White targets but noting that police officers showed additional racial biases in reaction times toward Latino compared to Asians and Whites. “
  5. Page 67, note 11 noting a “…finding that there is a negative implicit bias toward the elderly.”
  6. Page 67, note 11 noting a “… finding that a negative implicit association toward Arab-Muslim men can affect human resource officers’ choice of job candidates.”
  7. Page 67, note 11 noting a “… finding that health professionals exhibited a significant pro-thin and anti-fat implicit bias.”
  8. Page 67, note 11 discussing a “… finding that both genders implicitly prefer their own group but that women have a much stronger implicit bias favoring their own group than men do and that men were implicitly associated with violence and aggression more readily than women.”
  9. Page 68, note 12 discussing a study on “… implicit bias toward Native Peoples as foreign and less American, violent and aggressive, and nonacademic and in need of benevolent assistance.”
  10. Page 68, note 12 discussing a study analyzing “… implicit attitudes related to Asian and White litigators.”
  11. Page 68, note 12 “…analyzing a court’s ruling “regarding the exclusion of Hispanic-Americans, Chinese-Americans, and Filipino-Americans from serving as grand jury forepersons.”
  12. Page 68, note 12 discussing a study of “…implicit gender biases related to women in the legal profession”.
  13. Page 70, note 21 discussing a “… finding that explicit and implicit biases in favor of Whites and against Asian-Americans altered the evaluation of a litigator’s deposition.”
  14. Page 70, note 21 discussing a “finding that “the race of a civil plaintiff or a criminal defendant can act implicitly to cause people to misremember a case’s fact in racially biased ways.” “
  15. Page 70, note 21 discussing a “finding that death-qualified jurors harbored stronger implicit and self-reported explicit racial biases than excluded jurors.”
  16. Page 70, note 21- discussing a “…finding that people implicitly associate Black and Guilty compared to White and Guilty.”
  17. Page 70, note 21- discussing a “finding that “jurors automatically and unintentionally evaluate[d] ambiguous trial evidence in racially biased ways.” ” (See also page 77 body and note 63)
  18. Page 70-71, note 21 discussing a “… finding that judges harbor the same kinds of implicit biases as others and that these biases can influence their judgment.”
  19. Pages 71-72, note 25 citing a working paper that noted that “…on average, Blacks receive almost 10% longer sentences than comparable Whites arrested for the same crimes and that prosecutors are more likely to file charges carrying the mandatory minimum sentences against Blacks.”
  20. Page 72, note 26 discusses a study “… examining implicit racial bias in the context of the public defender’s office.”
  21. Page 77, note 60 discussing a “… finding that submitting resumes with White-sounding names as opposed to African-American-sounding names resulted in 50% more callbacks for interviews and finding that callbacks are also more responsive to resume quality for White names than for African-American names.”

Although the footnotes do cite additional studies, these 21 studies make the point: implicit bias exists everywhere, having crept into every aspect of our lives. And the best way to combat implicit bias is to be aware that exists by paying close attention to your thoughts and actions, to focus on the other person as an individual and not as a stereotype, to pause and take time to reflect on the bias, to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective, and finally but most important, to diverse your business and social contacts. (Cherry, Kendra, “How Does Implicit Bias Influence Behavior?” (September 18,2020)

…. Just something to think about.


Phyllis Pollack

Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Negotiation Mistake 4: Shortening Up Too Soon

From the blog of Nancy Hudgins(This is the fourth in a series of Seven Mistakes Really Good Negotiators Make.) If there’s one thing mediators hate to see, it’s parties shortening...

By Nancy Hudgins

Co-Parenting Skills: Credit Where Credit is Due

Civil Negotiation and Mediation by Nancy HudginsI conducted a divorce mediation recently where the parties have been separated for many years but now have started the divorce process by coming...

By Nancy Hudgins

Directors & Officers Insurance: How To Mediate The Allocation Of The Loss Between Covered And Uncovered Claims Under The Relative Exposure Clause

Summary The Relative Exposure Clause (“REC”) found in several Directors & Officers Insurance Policies (“D&O”) imposes a duty on the Insureds and Insurer to arrive at a fair and proper...

By David Laufer