Are the States Underlying Implicit Biases Unconscious? – A Neo-Freudian Answer

Philosophical Psychology 31 (6):1007-1026 (2018)
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Abstract
Many philosophers as well as psychologists hold that implicit biases are due to unconscious attitudes. The justification for this unconscious-claim seems to be an inference to the best explanation of the mismatch between explicit and implicit attitudes, which is characteristic for implicit biases. The unconscious-claim has recently come under attack based on its inconsistency with empirical data. Instead, Gawronski et al. (2006) analyze implicit biases based on the so-called Associative-Propositional Evaluation (APE) model, according to which implicit attitudes are phenomenally conscious and accessible. The mismatch between the explicit and the implicit attitude is explained by the Cognitive Inconsistency Approach (CIA) (as I will call it): implicit attitudes are conscious but rejected as basis for explicit judgments because the latter lead to cognitive inconsistency with respect to other beliefs held by the subject. In this paper, I will argue that the CIA is problematic since it cannot account for the fact that implicit attitudes underlying implicit biases typically are unconscious. I will argue that a better explanation of the attitude-mismatch can be given in terms of a Neo-Freudian account of repression. I will develop such an account, and I will show how it can accommodate the merits of the APE model while avoiding the problems of the CIA.
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2018-02-11

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