Explicit and Implicit Bias Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

humans unique is the combination of attitudes and opinions that make up perspective. Development of perspective determines how an individual lives, learns, and what decisions the individual makes. The attitude of a person has behavioral, affective, and cognitive components. Furthermore, it can exist in two different ways. The first is explicit attitudes. These attitudes manifest at a conscious level. They are intentionally formed and easy to identify (Wittenbrink & Schwarz, 2007). Implicit attitudes occur in an unconscious level, are not easy to identify, and are involuntarily formed. A brief example of this is a person meeting someone new.

The new person is wearing the shirt of the other person's favorite team. His name is Stu. Stu already likes the new person because he likes that team and they have something big, in common. Stu goes out a second night and has a bad interaction with a stranger. He doesn't know why, but it may be because that person reminds Stu of someone who hurt him in the past and he greatly disliked. This then becomes an implicit attitude.

Now if this situation were to include stereotypes, Stu would think the stranger, a black was hostile and into hip hop. An implicit stereotype would mean Stu saw a black man in the street behind him, gets scared and crosses the street. Although Stu consciously doesn't believe black people are violent, when he sees a black mind behind him, he gets scared and cross the street showing deep down he believes the stereotype.

Moving to explicit and implicit bias, explicit bias is consciously done and can be easily recognized. Explicit bias reflects the beliefs or attitudes of an individual on a conscious level. For example, whites may perceive Muslims as threatening and express prejudice if they see their country's security at risk by Muslim-based terrorist attacks. Implicit bias occurs unconsciously and can be seen in the sentencing rate of people with prominent Afrocentric features compared to those without (Ross & Dove, 2014). These people receive longer sentences are more often accosted by law enforcement. Although those in law enforcement may not recognize their prejudice against a certain group, behaviors prove otherwise.

This moves into bias and courtroom proceedings. Although racial bias has led to longer sentences for black males, there is another bias existing within courtroom proceedings, gender bias. Women are seen in society as being inherently good. Men are seen in society as being inherently bad. Thus, when a woman commits the same crime as a man, the woman generally will receive a less harsh sentence, especially for certain crimes. One crime in particular is statutory rape.

However, there are times as well when the gender bias does not favor the woman such as the case of mothers killing their children. Juries convicting these cases tend to want to give the harshest penalties because it goes against the widely accepted idea that all mothers love their children. Another area where women face gender bias is in custody battles and domestic violence disputes. One article mentions gender bias plays a role in perceived effectiveness of attorneys. "Gender bias impairs not only a woman's chances of winning relief from her abuser but also limits the ability of her attorney, if female, to prove her case" (Dragiewicz, 2012, p. 13).

With biases seemingly influencing court proceedings not just from a racial perspective, a but a gender one, it begs to ask just how fair is the justice system? When the innocence of someone is determined by a group of individuals whether it be judge or jury, is it impossible to avoid bias. This is because even if someone is not aware of a bias, implicit biases are part of everyone's perspective and exists even without someone recognizing it. For women and black men to face difficulties or in the case of women, receive greater leniency for certain crimes, it shows the inherent flaw of the justice system and the need to observe and recognize potential implicit biases.

Racial disparity in sentencing has a great effect on the judicial system. The 'Black Lives Matter' campaign and the numerous videos of innocent black men being killed by police is a harsh remind of what happens when society sees a specific group in…

Sources Used in Document:


Dragiewicz, M. (2012). Gender bias in the courts: Implications for battered mothers and their children.Family And Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly, 5(1), 13-35. Retrieved from http://www.safetylit.org/citations/index.php?fuseaction=citations.viewdetails&citationIds%5B%5D=citjournalarticle_426721_38

Rehavi, M. & Starr, S. (2012). Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Charging and Its Sentencing Consequences. SSRN Electronic Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1985377

Ross, D. & Dove, T. (2014). Bias in the Box: For capital juries across America, race still plays a role in who gets to serve. Virginia Quarterly Review, 90(4), 178-201.

Wittenbrink, B. & Schwarz, N. (2007). Implicit measures of attitudes. New York: Guilford Press.

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