Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology


Leadership and status

Think leader, think white? Capturing and weakening an implici pro-white leadership bias

Gu¨ ndemir S, Homan AC, de Dreu CKW, van Vugt M (2014) Think Leader, Think White? Capturing and Weakening an Implicit Pro-White Leadership

Bias. PLoS ONE 9(1): e83915. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083915


Across four studies, we found evidence for an implicit pro-White leadership bias that helps explain the underrepresentation

of ethnic minorities in leadership positions. Both White-majority and ethnic minority participants reacted significantly faster when ethnically White names and leadership roles (e.g., manager; Study 1) or leadership traits (e.g., decisiveness; Study 2 &

3) were paired in an Implicit Association Test (IAT) rather than when ethnic minority names and leadership traits were paired. Moreover, the implicit pro-White leadership bias showed discriminant validity with the conventional implicit bias

measures (Study 3). Importantly, results showed that the pro-White leadership bias can be weakened when situational cues increase the salience of a dual identity (Study 4). This, in turn, can diminish the explicit pro-White bias in promotion related decision making processes (Study 4). This research offers a new tool to measure the implicit psychological processes

underlying the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in leadership positions and proposes interventions to weaken such


Copyright © 2012– Mark van Vugt