Reducing the expression of implicit stereotypes: reflexive control through implementation intentions.

Research paper by Saaid A SA Mendoza, Peter M PM Gollwitzer, David M DM Amodio

Indexed on: 07 Apr '10Published on: 07 Apr '10Published in: Personality & social psychology bulletin


The authors tested the effectiveness of implementation intentions as a strategy for limiting the behavioral expression of implicit stereotypes. Implementation intentions are if-then plans that link an intended response to an anticipated situational cue, thereby enabling a reflexive form of control. The authors examined whether two different types of implementation intentions could improve response accuracy on the Shooter Task, a reaction time measure of implicit stereotyping. In Study 1, participants used a distraction-inhibiting implementation intention designed to engage control over the perception of goal-irrelevant stimuli (e.g., race). In Study 2, participants used a response-facilitating implementation intention designed to promote goal-directed action. Across studies, implementation intentions improved accuracy, thereby limiting the behavioral expression of implicit stereotypes. Furthermore, process dissociation analyses indicated that the distraction-inhibiting implementation intention increased controlled processing while reducing automatic stereotype activation, whereas the response-facilitating implementation intention increased only controlled processing. Implications for goal strategy approaches to reducing prejudice are discussed.