The Psychological Control Of Implicit Biases: A Dynamical Systems Perspective
Much of social psychological theorizing is entrenched in a dualism between two distinctive mental systems - one associative, the other rule-based. In particular, in the field of evaluations, the contemporary dual systems approach emphasizes the separated existence of distinct implicit and explicit attitudes. However, in recent times, theoreticians have been seeking an understanding of social psychological topics through models that can handle real-time interactivity between component parts. Thus, this dissertation applies the framework of dynamical systems towards key social psychological topics typically construed through dual systems theory. In Chapter 2, we provide evidence that explicit evaluations are gradually unfolding from the self-organization of multiple biases. By analyzing hand-movement trajectories in an explicit attitude report task, we show that while our participants are about equally likely to report liking white people and black people, their formations of these two responses show qualitatively distinct processing dynamics. These findings support the notion that the mind hosts a continuously evolving blend of evaluative decisions from which the eventual explicit decision emerges. In Chapter 3, we provide preliminary evidence that the dynamics of formulating an explicit evaluative judgment is even biased by subliminal evaluative conditioning. These findings would challenge the notion that explicit and implicit attitudes partake in two distinct psychological "channels," suggesting instead that a dynamically interactive mind underlies the preparation of an eventual explicit decision. Finally, in Chapter 4, we sketch out a dynamical systems approach to motivated control. We provide dynamical systems interpretations for three constituent aspects of control - selection, goal pursuit, and top-down flexibility, and thereby craft a perspective on motivated control which respects the existence of specialized neurobiological systems, but creates space for more than two of them, and allows them to continually interact.
Ferguson, Melissa J.
Finlay, Barbara L.; Spivey, Michael James; Field, David James
Ph.D. of Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis