In this video, Dr. Lorie Fridell, CEO of Fair & Impartial Policing, discusses the characteristics of implicit associations.

Implicit associations link categories of people with the characteristics or stereotypes we have come to associate with those groups. These associations have several distinct characteristics. First, implicit associations are automatic and may lie outside our conscious thought, yet they can influence our attitudes and behaviors towards people. Next, these implicit associations may be incompatible with our consciously held attitudes. You can reject bias and stereotypes at the conscious level and still have implicit associations.

A third characteristic is that implicit associations are more likely to impact us when we encounter ambiguous information or stimuli. “Ambiguous people” are people we don’t know.  We categorize people we don’t know and link them to stereotypes; we don’t do this with a person who is familiar to us. The risk of police bias is increased when they face “ambiguous behavior,” such as a furtive movement.    

Another characteristic is that implicit associations may be based in part on fact. For example, a professor may have an implicit association linking students of lower socio-economic status (SES) to reduced educational preparation. This implicit association may be based in part on fact; because of unequal educational opportunities, many lower SES students do come to college less prepared. Even though some of our implicit associations may be based in part on fact, that does not justify our treating an individual as if s/he fits the stereotype.


Watch the full video here: