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Understanding Bias

Understanding Bias


What is bias?

Bias refers to prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in an unfair way.

Biases develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages all around us, i.e., media, punishment and rewards, education, peers, family, etc. These learned associations cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based upon characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc.


What is implicit bias?

Implicit bias (also known as unconscious bias) refers to attitudes based upon stereotypes we have been taught that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner; the attitudes and beliefs are often involuntarily and beyond an individuals’ awareness or intentional control. Click here to watch this video on Implicit Bias.


What is explicit bias?

Explicit bias (also known as conscious bias) refers to attitudes and beliefs we have about a person and/or social group, on a conscious level, based upon stereotypes we have been taught; these biases are attitudes and beliefs formed and acted upon with deliberate thought.


How do I know if I am biased?

News flash: We all have biases, and no one is exempt. Naturally, our brains categorize things. So, it makes sense that we would do that with the people with which we interact.

There also is an assumption that only people in power can have biases, when in fact, people who are in marginalized groups also can show biases in favor of or against certain groups.


Are you curious to know your implicit biases?

Learn your implicit biases by taking Harvard’s Project Implicit Association Test. You will be prompted to answer questions that describe your self-understanding of the attitude or stereotype that the Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures.