Gregory Mitchell

Measuring Situational Bias or Creating Situational Bias?

Psychological Inquiry

UVA Law Faculty Affiliations


If implicit bias reflects the accessibility of concepts linked to a social category, as Payne and colleagues contend, then it logically follows that sequential priming and implicit association tests create bias because they pair social categories with evaluative and trait terms and observe reactions to the pairings. So long as social groups have different histories within a culture, we should observe differential accessibility of affective and semantic associations, propositions, or points along any dimension on which the groups can be aligned. We can, in short, create bias in any situation by administering an IAT, AMP, or another indirect measure of bias. Rather than measuring free-floating situational bias, the test creates the very bias being measured in that situation.


Gregory Mitchell, Measuring Situational Bias or Creating Situational Bias?, 28 Psychological Inquiry 292–296 (2017).

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