Bringing automatic stereotyping under control: Implementation intentions as an efficient means of thought control

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Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


automatic stereotyping, control, conscious intentions, process dissociation, goals


The evidence for whether intentional control strategies can reduce automatic stereotyping is mixed. Therefore, the authors tested the utility of implementation intentions— specific plans linking a behavioral opportunity to a specific response—in reducing automatic bias. In three experiments, automatic stereotyping was reduced when participants made an intention to think specific counterstereotypical thoughts whenever they encountered a Black individual. The authors used two implicit tasks and process dissociation analysis, which allowed them to separate contributions of automatic and controlled thinking to task performance. Of importance, the reduction in stereotyping was driven by a change in automatic stereotyping and not controlled thinking. This benefit was acquired with little practice and generalized to novel faces. Thus, implementation intentions may be an effective and efficient means for controlling automatic aspects of thought.