Psychological literature supports that cognition is a culturally mediated process that influences people’s perceptions. Implicit biases are an unconscious cognitive response that shape people’s perceptions differently across cultures. Implicit bias theory holds that people prefer their cultural group over others and that their experiences with people from a different culture are mediated by stereotypes that dictate their behaviors towards them. Implicit bias literature is robust in addressing a multitude of related concepts, however one topic not queried in the literature is how implicit bias influences people’s experiences with art, a proxy of culture. This focused discussion will be centered on my primary research question: Does implicit bias play a role in people’s aesthetic experiences and further, are hedonic and affective responses mediated by inhibitory cognitive processes (executive functioning) or personality traits (openness to experience). My research hypothesizes, consistent with implicit bias literature, that people will prefer art that is representative of their cultural group and will either dislike or prefer to a lesser degree art that is non-representative. Additionally, the research proposes that these experiences will be mediated by two variables: (1) an age-related decrease in the executive function of inhibition. Which, as posited in literature, assists people with maintaining their explicit egalitarian perspectives by suppressing their implicit racist beliefs and (2) openness to experience, which is highly correlated with an overall increased liking of art.
Perception, Art, Culture, Executive Functioning, Openness to Experience, Enculturation
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Barbara Shae Jackson
Graduate Student, Psychology, University of Alabama, United States