Skip to Main Content

Anti-Prejudice & Hate: Implicit BIas


 Implicit bias (sometimes referred to as cognitive bias) is both naturally occurring and subconscious. We all have implicit biases, which makes them particularly important to address and control in our pursuit of equality. Implicit bias results from a combination of nature and nurture, meaning it is an outcome of our biological makeup and our social environment - especially the context we were raised in.

In terms of biology, implicit bias is partly due to the workings of the brain. Human brains have the difficult task of coping with an incredible amount of information at every waking moment. Since our brains typically do such a great job of managing these different stimuli, we rarely give a second thought to just how much data our minds must deal with. The sheer volume and detail of everything we hear and see, on top of all the things we are constantly thinking and feeling (both emotionally and physically) is certainly remarkable. Yet, if our brains did not take shortcuts to process and categorize this information, the amount of data ingested would be completely unbearable.

By making generalizations through associations and assumptions, implicit bias allows us to manage daily life, which often requires us to make quick decisions. It helps us do all this without having to sift through massive amounts of information, thereby easing the burden placed on our brains and our minds.

Unfortunately, this same process that helps us make sense of the world also works unconsciously to make fast judgments about individual people and groups. Often, those who bear the brunt of these judgments are those who we perceive to be members of an out-group (often due to differences in race, gender, social class, and other socioeconomic factors).

What is Implicit Bias?

Learn about Your Implicit Biases



I know my own mind. I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way. These self-perceptions are challenged by leading psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald as they explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality. "Blindspot" is the authors' metaphor for the portion of the mind that houses hidden biases. Writing with simplicity and verve, Banaji and Greenwald question the extent to which our perceptions of social groups--without our awareness or conscious control--shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people's character, abilities, and potential. In Blindspot, the authors reveal hidden biases based on their experience with the Implicit Association Test, a method that has revolutionized the way scientists learn about the human mind and that gives us a glimpse into what lies within the metaphoric blindspot. The title's "good people" are those of us who strive to align our behavior with our intentions. The aim of Blindspot is to explain the science in plain enough language to help well-intentioned people achieve that alignment. By gaining awareness, we can adapt beliefs and behavior and "outsmart the machine" in our heads so we can be fairer to those around us. Venturing into this book is an invitation to understand our own minds. Brilliant, authoritative, and utterly accessible, Blindspot is a book that will challenge and change readers for years to come. Praise for Blindspot nbsp; "Conversational . . . easy to read, and best of all, it has the potential, at least, to change the way you think about yourself."--Leonard Mlodinow, 

An Introduction to Implicit Bias

Written by a diverse range of scholars, this accessible introductory volume asks: What is implicit bias? How does implicit bias compromise our knowledge of others and social reality? How does implicit bias affect us, as individuals and participants in larger social and political institutions, and what can we do to combat biases? An interdisciplinary enterprise, the volume brings together the philosophical perspective of the humanities with the perspective of the social sciences to develop rich lines of inquiry. Its twelve chapters are written in a non-technical style, using relatable examples that help readers understand what implicit bias is, its significance, and the controversies surrounding it. Each chapter includes discussion questions and additional annotated reading suggestions, and a companion webpage contains teaching resources. The volume is an invaluable resource for students--and researchers--seeking to understand criticisms surrounding implicit bias, as well as how one might answer them by adopting a more nuanced understanding of bias and its role in maintaining social injustice.


"A fascinating new book... [Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt is] a genius."--Trevor Noah, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah "Poignant....important and illuminating."--The New York Times Book Review "Groundbreaking."--Bryan Stevenson, New York Times bestselling author of Just Mercy From one of the world's leading experts on unconscious racial bias come stories, science, and strategies to address one of the central controversies of our time How do we talk about bias? How do we address racial disparities and inequities? What role do our institutions play in creating, maintaining, and magnifying those inequities? What role do we play? With a perspective that is at once scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt offers us the language and courage we need to face one of the biggest and most troubling issues of our time. She exposes racial bias at all levels of society--in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and criminal justice system. Yet she also offers us tools to address it. Eberhardt shows us how we can be vulnerable to bias but not doomed to live under its grip. Racial bias is a problem that we all have a role to play in solving.

Seeing Patients: Unconscious Bias in Health Care

This book uses the story of one of the authors, Gus White, as a way to talk about unconscious biases and their consequences to the medical profession and beyond. White is an orthopedic surgeon, who grew up in Tennessee under Jim Crow, went to Brown, and was the only black student at Stanford Medical School. He was the first black chief resident at Yale, the only black surgeon in Vietnam, and was the first black chief of service in a Harvard teaching hospital. His life spans an enormous change in American race relations, and he has many eye opening stories to tell. His description of his early years in an extremely segregated and racist society now reads like something from another world. White and Chanoff want to use the autobiographical approach of this book to show how great the disparities still are, and make the case for "culturally competent" medical training, in a way that is more vivid and memorable than a research review or policy paper. The book looks at White's life, but always with an eye to what moved him to the idea of equality in medicine and problems of disparities in medicine.

We All Have Implicit Biases. So What Do We Do about It?

Implicit BIas

This video gives educators strategies on how to check and prevent implicit bias.