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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Oct;34(10):1332-45. doi: 10.1177/0146167208321269. Epub 2008 Jul 25.

Bringing automatic stereotyping under control: implementation intentions as efficient means of thought control.

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School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia.


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.

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