Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



This thesis will explore the problem of implicit bias and motivate a negative definition of implicit bias. The first chapter takes a survey of implicit bias research in psychology and engages with Tamar Gendler’s proposal of aliefs. Based on her description I argue that she is advocating for a model of implicit bias that consists of an addition or distortion to visual perception. I then explored implications of this model, including the tenacity of the additions to visual perception in the face of conflicting evidence and beliefs. Ultimately, I argue that her primary Cosmos Club example does not support her model of implicit bias and reinterpret her example to motivate a new model of implicitly biased perception. Combining the Cosmos Club example with alternative epistemologies, the second chapter demonstrates the importance of perspectival knowledge in formulating a model of implicit bias. Attention research indicates that executive control of attentional processes is motivated by top-down processes, and therefore the personal experiences, habits, and biases of the observer must necessarily be taken into account. Rather than focusing on individual differences in perceptual capacities and cognitive biases, I claimed that the occurrences of implicit bias in particular social groups (white, wealthy, etc.) demonstrates that the loci of measurable difference in perspective is at the intersection between different social groups determined by race, gender, age, sexuality, etc. After establishing the indispensability of group perspective, I then argued for a model of implicit bias as inattentional bias. The third and final chapter will delve into the cognitive science research into attention, and inattentional blindness. It will draw a comparison between positive and negative implicit bias and bottom-up and top-down attentional processes on visual perception. I will propose a model of perception that provides an explanation for inattentional blindness that is in accordance with the claims of epistemologists of ignorance that ignorance is active and can lead to implicit bias as de-selecting evidence. The thesis ends by suggesting what future research of negative implicit bias should focus on.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Goldgaber, Deborah