I have explored implicit prejudice and how it operates, especially in the context of shortlisting for academic posts (this research was funded by Equality and Diversity at the University of Manchester and then by the Equality Challenge Unit).
I found that when White people were shortlisting candidates for jobs, they were ten times more likely to select two White candidates than two non-White candidates (despite the White and non-White candidates having identical applications) and, in addition, using remote eye tracking to monitor their individual gaze fixation points, I found that those doing the shortlisting unconsciously fixated on the weaker parts of the applications of candidates from different racial backgrounds to themselves. In other words, unconscious, implicit processes direct our behaviour without any awareness on our part. One consequence of this selective attention, directed by the unconscious system, is that the final outcome might appear quite reasonable and might well satisfy our conscious and rational self.
This research suggests that if we really do want to do anything about racism in society, then we need to understand these implicit, unconscious processes and how to combat them.
Beattie, G, Cohen, D. L., & McGuire, L. (2013)
An exploration of possible unconscious ethnic biases in higher education: The role of implicit attitudes on selection for university posts
Semiotica, 197, 217-247.
Beattie, G, (2013)
Our Racist Heart? An Exploration of Unconscious Prejudice in Everyday Life. Read more >
Beattie, G. & Johnson P. (2011)
Unconscious Bias in Recruitment and Promotion and the Need to Promote Equality.
Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education 16: 7-13