How to Think about “Implicit Bias”

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One of the most common concerns I have when seeing people talk about all they “know” around topics that tend to divide us is the lack of understanding around implicit bias.  We all have it.  We can’t avoid it.  And yet we try.  Because, as the article below points out, “it isn’t nice to think we aren’t very nice”.

I found this article to be very insightful around understanding what implicit bias is.  I think it’s a good reminder that we are not as neutral as we’d like to believe and all information coming into our being is being filtered through our own implicit bias…our own lens.  Are you able to acknowledge yours?

From the article:

“When is the last time a stereotype popped into your mind? If you are like most people, the authors included, it happens all the time. That doesn’t make you a racist, sexist, or whatever-ist. It just means your brain is working properly, noticing patterns, and making generalizations. But the same thought processes that make people smart can also make them biased. This tendency for stereotype-confirming thoughts to pass spontaneously through our minds is what psychologists call implicit bias. It sets people up to overgeneralize, sometimes leading to discrimination even when people feel they are being fair.

Studies of implicit bias have recently drawn ire from both right and left. For the right, talk of implicit bias is just another instance of progressives seeing injustice under every bush. For the left, implicit bias diverts attention from more damaging instances of explicit bigotry. Debates have become heated and leapt from scientific journals to the popular press. Along the way, some important points have been lost. We highlight two misunderstandings that anyone who wants to understand implicit bias should know about.”