The research, to be published this month in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found white people characterize a "black" person as belonging to a lower socioeconomic status, being less competent, and having a less inviting personality than an "African-American" person. And this difference in perception could have an impact on African Americans in various settings, from the labor market to the criminal justice system.
There's a term for what's happening when, despite our best intentions and without our awareness, racial stereotypes and assumptions creep into our minds and affect our actions: implicit racial bias.
It seeps into just about every aspect of life, including areas like criminal justice that can have deadly consequences. Thirty years of neurology and cognitive psychology studies show that it influences the way we see and treat others, even when we're absolutely determined to be, and believe we are being, fair and objective.
That's why implicit racial bias has been called "the new diversity paradigm — one that recognizes the role that bias plays in the day-to-day functioning of all human beings."