What if part of the information we use to form our opinions and choose our actions are based on flawed or incomplete information and we are not even aware? We are all biased at our core, it helps us make sense of the world we see around us, shapes our minds, infuses our creativity, and determines our actions. But all our good intentions may be of no consequence is our (implicit) bias intervenes our thought process
That is the heart of many of societies challenges. The reason why we have special day’s every month, creating awareness on issues that seem obvious to most of us. Of course, we support equal rights for women and the LBTQIA+ community, yes, we need to stop racism, mental health needs to be taken seriously and no one wants to destroy the planet we all call home. Yet all these issues are at the top of today’s agenda for many organizations and political bodies.
If most of us agree, then why is it so difficult to exact real change? Part of the problem is our very own brain; it has been hard wired to make certain assumptions often unbeknownst to us. Back to bias. Bias can be divided in explicit bias and implicit bias. Explicit bias is a conscious opinion or believe you hold and not the topic of discussion here as we have established that most people agree on exacting change, equal rights, and a better planet for all. The problem here is our implicit bias.
The Kirwan Institute (for the study of race and ethnicity) at Ohio State University defines these biases as “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, decisions, and actions in an unconscious manner. These implicit biases we all hold do not necessarily align with our own declared beliefs.”
Implicit bias can be formed through various sources, including our upbringing, media, and social environment. Over time, our brains develop patterns of association between certain groups or characteristics and specific attributes or stereotypes. For instance, we may unconsciously associate men with leadership qualities or women with domestic responsibilities. This example is one most of us are aware of in 2023, but we are only able to change it by consciously adjusting this associating every time it is made. Now just imagine how many other implicit biases need to be brought to awareness and consciously changed time and time again before our brain accepts a different assumption to be true. The most challenging part being that you may not be aware yet that your brain is making these (false) assumptions.
Biased assumptions and judgments can manifest in different forms of systemic injustices, such as racism, sexism, ageism, and religious discrimination.
Recognizing and addressing bias is crucial in creating a fair and equitable society. It requires self-awareness and a willingness to examine our assumptions and beliefs critically. By becoming aware of our implicit biases, we can challenge and change them, which can ultimately lead to a more just and equal world. And is that not what we all want?
So get to it, we can change the world, by at the very least being aware of our own bias.
Leaving you with a book recommendation to help you on this mission:
"Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People" by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. This book explores the psychology of unconscious bias and how it affects our perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. It provides readers with tools to identify and challenge their own biases and to create a more inclusive and equitable world.
We’d love it if you shared with us. Below you’ll find a comment section where you can drop your personal thoughts.