An Implicit Bias Primer

32 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2018

See all articles by Gregory Mitchell

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2018


The phenomenon of implicit bias is much discussed but little understood. This article answers basic conceptual and empirical questions about implicit bias, including what it is, how it is measured, what effects it may have on behavior, and whether it can be changed. Consensus now exists among implicit bias researchers that current measures of implicit bias cannot reliably identify who will or will not discriminate in any given situation and that programs aimed at changing implicit bias produce very limited effects. Despite hopes that implicit bias research would lead to new and better understandings of how and why discrimination occurs, the empirical reality is that implicit bias research has not yet improved our ability to predict and prevent discrimination.

Keywords: implicit bias, discrimination, social science and law

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory, An Implicit Bias Primer (March 1, 2018). Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2018, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2018-20, Available at SSRN:

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-243-4088 (Phone)

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