Egalitarianism, Implicit Bias, and Motivation

In society today some people are beginning to make change. They are becoming less prejudiced, and using fewer stereotypes. The question is whether this is due to internal, or external motivations. Meaning are people being less racist because in their heart they know it is wrong? Or, are they being less racist because they are scared of the societal consequences and being known as a racist and getting canceled by society, or maybe because of legal reasons? Either way, how they approach this has a lot to do with something called implicit bias. Implicit bias is a form of bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally. Though it is automatic and unintentional it plays a big role in people’s behaviors, thoughts and judgements. In the article by Michael Johns, Internal Motivation to Respond without Prejudice and Automatic Egalitarian Goal Activation, two different studies are conducted to see how internal and external motivations affect someone’s implicit bias. It was found that people who were more internally motivated showed less implicit bias than people who were more externally motivated and I feel like this is extremely important for our society. If people take this information and try to become more internally motivated, then implicit racism will decline which will in turn help fight against racism and prejudice. This is one step out of many to try and stop racism. My question to you is will you take the next step and think about what drives your motivation to be anti racist?

3 thoughts on “Egalitarianism, Implicit Bias, and Motivation”

  1. I think a step that someone can take in becoming anti-racist would be to first recognize that they may be exhibiting acts of racism. The only way to truly do this is to look at your actions objectively and ask yourself, “if someone else did what I did would I label them as a racist?” If the answer is yes, then it’s clear that there’s an underlying issue here, even if you didn’t mean for it to be that way. Going off of what Natalie said, this external motivation, fear of being “cancelled” can serve as motivation that turns intrinsic. I do want to point out, however, that sometimes external motivation in the form of peer pressure can also lead to people doubling down on their beliefs and being less open to change because they are being told to. So I feel that finding a balance in the extrinsic motivation, or the right form at least is where we’d need to start with that.

  2. I think one way to become intrinsically motivated as a passer-by who often defends themselves by saying “I’m not racist! I have friends who are people of color!” is asking those friends about their experience as members of the racial minority, thinking about what they go through on a daily basis, and practicing your empathy if you truly care about them, so your first step towards anti-racism can be fighting for your loved ones.

  3. I agree that internal motivation is crucial for anti-racist work, and I also think we should keep open the possibility that people can grow from external motivation into internal motivation. This would be throughout a process of self-determination, but it would still end up with intrinsic motivation by the end. One example I can think of regarding external to internal motivation is based off of what occurred during the summer of 2020. Young people supported the Black Lives Matter movement, BLM protests, information, etc. They did this through posting about recent things happening or even by reposting a black square. Although the black square was pointless and extremely performative, it might have been some people’s first experience with this issue. So although some people may have joined in on the “trend” of posting about Black Lives Matter because everyone else was doing it, this external motivation might have started a journey towards internal motivation. And that to me provides hope that more people can do the work to fight against their own implicit bias by growing.


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