Get access

Are Ideal Litigators White? Measuring the Myth of Colorblindness


  • Research assistance provided by: Karen Law, Emily Reitz, and Paul McCollum. Special thanks to Summer Rose, Tal Grietzer, Hiroshi Motomura, and the Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library at UCLA School of law. Valuable comments by: Anthony Greenwald, Sung Hui Kim, Jeff Rachlinski, and anonymous reviewers. Supported in part by: UCLA School of Law, UCLA Institute of American Cultures, UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

Jerry Kang, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; Professor of Asian American Studies (by courtesy), Korea Times – HanKook Ilb. Chair in Korean American Studies, 405 Hilgard Ave., Box 951476, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476; email: Dasgupta is Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Yogeeswaran is Ph.D. candidate in psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Blasi is Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law.


This study examined whether explicit and implicit biases in favor of Whites and against Asian Americans would alter evaluation of a litigator's deposition. We found evidence of both explicit bias as measured by self-reports, and implicit bias as measured by two Implicit Association Tests. In particular, explicit stereotypes that the ideal litigator was White predicted worse evaluation of the Asian American litigator (out group derogation); by contrast, implicit stereotypes predicted preferential evaluation of the White litigator (in group favoritism). In sum, participants were not colorblind, at least implicitly, toward even a “model minority,” and these biases produced racial discrimination. This study provides further evidence of the predictive and ecological validity of the Implicit Association Test in a legal domain.