Throughout their lives, people learn and store an infinite amount of information in their memory system. Such learning may occur in multiple ways, ranging from direct and active experiences with other people to indirect and passive exposure to cultural information. This leads people to develop preferences and aversions toward a broad range of attitute-objects in their environment that may in turn influence the way people interact with and process other information related to those objects, even if people do not intend to do so. In other words, people may develop biases, and such biases may affect responses —sometimes even without any intend to do so. Thus, people inevitably develop implicit biases that may automatically orient subsequent downstream processes, such as perception and behavior.
In the RSCL, we aim to examine how implicit bias toward different targets (e.g., outgroup members, significant others) and in different domains (e.g., racial prejudice, sexual orientation, romantic relationships, peer relations) form, fluctuates, and affects responses. Specifically, our goal is to (1) understand the conditions under and mechanisms through which such implicit biases affect responses and (2) examine whether they may be changed and best regulated in order to maximize people’s well-being and that of others.