Making sense of ourselves
Making sense of ourselves

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Making sense of ourselves

1.3 Tackling social desirability

Not all prejudice measures, however, rely on self-reports and not all measures are equally vulnerable to social desirability pressures. In recent years, psychologists have increasingly distinguished between two kinds of measures of prejudice:

  • Implicit measures are less obtrusive, focusing on responses that are more subtle, spontaneous and difficult to control. They tend to be less affected by social desirability concerns.
  • Explicit measures focus on overt, consciously expressed feelings and beliefs. Responses on such measures are easy to control. They tend to be affected most by social desirability concerns.

The distinction between implicit and explicit measures of prejudice is arguably not best conceived in an ‘either/or’ fashion. The measures are probably better conceived as falling along a continuum.

The figure below presents a continuum of implicit-explicit measures of prejudice. At one pole, we have measures of ‘open discrimination’ such as observations of crude, racist or sexist language and behaviour. At the other pole, we have measures of physiological responses to members of other groups. These might include, for example, neurological indicators of disgust or threat of which a person is entirely unaware (e.g. evidence of activation of the ‘fear centre’ or amygdala in the brain). Between these two extremes fall other measures on this continuum.

Place your cursor over a particular measure and click to see a brief description of each section of the diagram below.

Active content not displayed. This content requires JavaScript to be enabled.
Figure 2 A continuum of implicit–explicit measures of prejudice
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

At this point, you might want to think about why a given measure has been located on a particular point of the continuum between ‘explicit/easy to control’ and ‘implicit/difficult to control’. (Of course, there are no absolute rules about where a measure should fall.)

DE200_4

Take your learning further371

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses372.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. Find out Where to take your learning next?373 You could either choose to start with an Access courses374or an open box module, which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn375 and sign up to our newsletter376 to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371