“That person is the same as ‘them’….” – Implicit Association

“That person is the same as ‘them’….”

In this lesson, we will explore the concept of Implicit Association, and related concepts. 

In simple terms, this cognitive bias refers to the way people attribute certain qualities to other individuals and designate them as members of an out-group.  For example, when you see another person in public with a particular shirt on, dressed a certain way, with a particular skin color, etc., the human brain subconsciously and automatically assigns these individuals into an out-group, based on past experiences and associations. 

Keep in mind your own Implicit Association Test results while watching the following video.  

From the Codex…

The Cognitive Bias Codex puts this particular bias in the grouping:  “We discard specifics to form generalities.”

She’s a bunny…  She’s so cute..  Cuter than they imagined! 

Does it matter than she was the top of her class?  No, apparently the chief knows, but just “don’t care.” 

There’s a little gem in this video, if you catch it, right at 1:00 minute..  The leopard introduces himself:  “I’m Ben Clawhauser, the guy everyone thinks is just a flabby donut loving cop… stereotyping you…”

What officer Clawhauser is pointing out is the fact that we all have implicit biases.  We all stereotype.  We all have prejudices.  What he points out is that he knows he’s doing it, but he’s still doing it anyway.  


This is a common psychological reality.  We discard the specific that make people unique in favor of the generalities that put those individuals into a group.


Exercise for this lesson:   

 Think about the implicit association test you took in the last lesson.  Think about the video you just watched.

Pick a group, any group that you might consider an outgroup.  Write the name of the group down.  Then, write down characteristics of that group.  To use the video you watched as an example, you might write down “bunnies.”  Characteristics might include, small, fuzzy, fast feet, and not police officers. 

If you can, try to write down 10-15 characteristics of the members of the group you’ve chosen.