City Population, Majority Group Size, and Residential Segregation Drive Implicit Racial Biases in U.S. Cities

52 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2023 Last revised: 13 Apr 2023

See all articles by Andrew Stier

Andrew Stier

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology

Sina Sajjadi

Central European University

Fariba Karimi

GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Luis Bettencourt

University of Chicago - Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation

Marc G. Berman

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology

Date Written: January 27, 2023

Abstract

Implicit biases, expressed as differential treatment towards out-group members, are pervasive in human societies. These biases are often racial or ethnic in nature and create disparities and inequities across many aspects of life. Recent research has revealed that implicit biases are, for the most part, driven by social contexts and local histories. However, it has remained unclear how and if the regular ways in which human societies self-organize in cities produce systematic variation in implicit bias strength. Here we leverage extensions of the mathematical models of urban scaling theory to predict and test between-city differences in implicit racial biases. Our model comprehensively links scales of organization from city-wide infrastructure to individual psychology to quanti-tatively predict that cities that are (1) more populous, (2) more diverse, and (3) less segregated have lower levels of implicit biases. We find broad empirical support for each of these predictions in U.S. cities for data spanning a decade of racial implicit association tests from millions of individuals. We conclude that the organization of cities strongly drives the strength of implicit racial biases and provides potential systematic intervention targets for the development and planning of more equitable societies.

Keywords: Implicit bias, cities, urban scaling, psychology, diversity, race, equity

Suggested Citation

Stier, Andrew and Sajjadi, Sina and Karimi, Fariba and Bettencourt, Luis and Berman, Marc G., City Population, Majority Group Size, and Residential Segregation Drive Implicit Racial Biases in U.S. Cities (January 27, 2023). Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation Research Paper 36, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4342718 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4342718

Andrew Stier (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology ( email )

5848 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Sina Sajjadi

Central European University

Hungary

Fariba Karimi

GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences ( email )

Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
Cologne, 50667
Germany

Luis Bettencourt

University of Chicago - Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation ( email )

5735 S Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Marc G. Berman

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology ( email )

United States

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