Across the United States, white Americans show subtle or “implicit” biases against blacks — biases they mostly don’t even realize they have. This has been established through lots of research, but it’s not perfectly uniform across the land. Whites in some states show more bias, overall, than in others.
That’s the takeaway from the map above, courtesy of Project Implicit, which is based on the scores of 1.5 million voluntary takers of the Implicit Association Test or IAT (which detects subtle or unconscious racial preferences), and which we examined e
Earlier this month. But we didn’t know why the map looked this way — with levels of uncontrolled bias higher in the U.S. Southeast and East Coast (but not so much New England).
Dominic Packer, a psychologist at Lehigh University, has a surprising (and troubling) answer: Unconscious racial bias, he shows in a new analysis, is higher in U.S. states in which there is a higher ratio of black citizens to white citizens — or in other words, in which there are relatively more black people for every white person. […]
The result was striking: The ratio of white to black residents in a given state explained over 50 percent of the variability in various states’ white participants’ Implicit Association Test scores. “That’s pretty big, for anything social scienc-y,” said Packer of the result.
Or to state the result in a different way: “States where Whites outnumber Blacks substantially in the population have lower average IAT scores,” wrote Packer. “In contrast, states where Blacks make up proportionally more of the population have higher average IAT scores.”