A patchier picture still: biases, beliefs and overlap on the inferential continuum

Sophie Stammers

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It has been proposed that, whilst implicit attitudes, alike beliefs, are propositionally structured (Mandelbaum 2016), the former respond to evidence and modulate other attitudes in a fragmented manner, and so constitute a sui generis class, the “patchy endorsements” (Levy 2015). In the following, I demonstrate that the patchy endorsements theorist is committed to the truth of two claims: (i) no implicit attitude is responsive to content to the same extent as any belief; and (ii) there is a significant gap between the most responsive implicit attitude and the least responsive belief. I argue that both (i) and (ii) fail to hold. Many implicit attitudes respond to evidence and modulate other attitudes. Meanwhile, at least some ordinary beliefs exhibit lower evidence-responsiveness and inferential efficacy than at least some implicit attitudes, defeating (i) and (ii). A better interpretation is that attitudes may be ordered along a continuum according to their responsiveness to content. At one extreme end, we find attitudes usually identified as implicit, and at the other, attitudes usually identified as beliefs, but in the middle, there is an area of overlap. I consider the consequences of the continuum view for existing folk psychological concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1829–1850
Number of pages22
Issue number4
Early online date4 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Implicit attitudes
  • implicit bias
  • attitude structure
  • evidence
  • inference


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