Jordan Axt

My Research

Below is some detail about a few current research projects. For information about other projects, visit my Papers and Study Materials page

Implicit Hierarchies in Social Evaluation

What are the consequences of living in a status hierarchy? In one project (total N > 200,000), we found evidence of pervasive hierarchies in implicit evaluation for race, religion and age (Axt, Ebersole & Nosek, 2014). For racial groups, implicit positive associations followed the rule: Own racial group > Whites > Asians > Blacks > Hispanics. Participants had the most positive implicit evaluations for their own racial group, followed by White, Asian, Black and Hispanic people. Hierarchies were also found in implicit evaluations of religions (Own religion > Christianity > Hinduism or Buddhism > Islam) and age groups (Children > Young adults > Middle-Age adults > Old adults). Such consistent hierarchies did not exist in explicit evaluations. These results suggest that our implicit evaluations of groups is shaped both by our own ingroup identity but also by the social standing of other groups. While such status hierarchies can be consciously rejected, they may still persist in social memory.

Follow-up work in this line of research is seeking to better delineate what aspects of implicit evaluation are more tied to personal identity versus cultural values.

Measuring Social Bias in Judgment

When does social information shape judgment in unknown or unwanted ways? We have developed a paradigm, the Judgment Bias Task, that can be used to measure judgment biases rapidly and reliably, and is adaptable towards a variety of social domains (Axt, Nguyen & Nosek, under review). After applying the paradigm to several social contexts (e.g., political or university affiliation), we find favoritism was frequently present even among those who reported a desire to be unbiased and a perception of having been unbiased.

We are currently using the paradigm to investigate what decision-making contexts are most effective at reducing bias in judgment.

Changes in Race Attitudes During Obama's Presidency

How has Obama's presidency impacted implicit and explicit attitudes towards African Americans? In a convenience sample of cross-sectional data (total N > 2,200,000), we found no evidence of substantive change in Americans' implicit or explicit racial attitudes during the first six years of Obama's presidency (Schmidt & Axt, 2016). After accounting for shifts in sample demographics, date explained only 0.01% of the variance in implicit attitudes and 0.001% of the variance in explicit attitudes. These data suggest that Obama’s presidency may be remembered less as a catalyst and more as a byproduct of changes in attitudes towards African Americans.