Bursell, Moa & Filip Olsson | 2020
American Sociological Review 85(6):1117-1122.
In “Status Characteristics, Implicit Bias, and the Production of Racial Inequality,” Melamed, Munn, Barry, Montgomery, and Okuwobi present an innovative and intriguing study on social influence, status beliefs, and implicit racial bias. To capture status-based expectancies, the authors measure implicit racial status beliefs using an Implicit Association Test (IAT) with words related to high and low status. We identify an important flaw in the study’s analytic approach that severely limits the conclusions that can be drawn based on the study. We argue that the authors neglected to separate the valence of the words included in the racial status IAT with the stereotype content of these words. It is therefore possible that the study’s racial IAT only captures implicit racial evaluations, and not status-based implicit racial beliefs.