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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Implicit Bias. Everyone Has It

Everyone has it. Implicit bias. Something that triggers a feeling inside which has no basis in fact, but defines the way that you see the world around you. I was told about the website below,, by an arbitrator who is on the 3020-a panel. He said he recognized me as a true advocate. Quite an honor!

Excellent reading! I've included some additional resources, below.

What is your bias?

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ blog
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials


What it is:

Thoughts and feelings are “implicit” if we are unaware of them or mistaken about their nature. We have a bias when, rather than being neutral, we have a preference for (or aversion to) a person or group of people. Thus, we use the term “implicit bias” to describe when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. A fairly commonplace example of this is seen in studies that show that white people will frequently associate criminality with black people without even realizing they’re doing it.

Why it matters:

The mind sciences have found that most of our actions occur without our conscious thoughts, allowing us to function in our extraordinarily complex world. This means, however, that our implicit biases often predict how we’ll behave more accurately than our conscious values. Multiple studies have also found that those with higher implicit bias levels against black people are more likely to categorize non-weapons as weapons (such as a phone for a gun, or a comb for a knife), and in computer simulations are more likely to shoot an unarmed person. Similarly, white physicians who implicitly associated black patients with being “less cooperative” were less likely to refer black patients with acute coronary symptoms for thrombolysis for specific medical care.

What can be done about it:

Social scientists are in the early stages of determining how to “debias.” It is clear that media and culture makers have a role to play by ceasing to perpetuate stereotypes in news and popular culture. In the meantime, institutions and individuals can identify risk areas where our implicit biases may affect our behaviors and judgments. Instituting specific procedures of decision making and training people to be mindful of the risks of implicit bias can help us avoid acting according to biases that are contrary to our conscious values and beliefs.
Implicit bias is a universal phenomenon, not limited by race, gender, or even country of origin. Take this test to see how it works for you: Implicit Bias Test

Learn more:

Implicit Bias sits at the core of our previously published reports. Most recently, Transforming Perception documents how implicit bias shapes the lives of black men and boys, and Telling Our Own Story: The Role of Narrative in Racial Healing integrates implicit bias insights with a discussion of how narrative can work to undo the harms of discrimination.
See also:


What it is:

“Explicit bias” refers to the attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level. Much of the time, these biases and their expression arise as the direct result of a perceived threat. When people feel threatened, they are more likely to draw group boundaries to distinguish themselves from others.

Why it’s important:

People are more likely to express explicit biases when they perceive an individual or group to be a threat to their well being. Research has shown that white people are more likely to express anti-Muslim prejudice when they perceive national security to be at risk and express more negative attitudes towards Asian Americans when they perceive an economic threat. When people perceive their biases to be valid, they are more likely to justify unfair treatment or even violence. This unfair treatment can have long-term negative impacts on its victims’ physical and mental health.

What can be done about it:

Expressions of explicit of bias (discrimination, hate speech, etc.) occur as the result of deliberate thought. Thus, they can be consciously regulated. People are more motivated to control their biases if there are social norms in place which dictate that prejudice is not socially acceptable. As we start forming our biases at an early age, it is important that we reinforce norms in our homes, schools, and in the media that promote respect for one’s own and other groups. Research shows that emphasizing a common group identity (such as “we are all Americans”) can help reduce interracial tensions that may arise between majority and minority ethnic groups in the U.S. Also, when conducted under the right conditions, studies show intergroup contact between people of different races can increase trust and reduce the anxiety that underlies bias.

Learn more:

More information about explicit bias and the way it shapes the lives of black men and boys can be found in our report Transforming Perception.

Could implicit bias be influencing your management style?

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