Implicit Bias

What is Implicit Bias?

What is Implicit Bias? Implicit bias refers to unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that people hold about certain characteristics like race, ethnicity, gender, age, appearance, sexual orientation, and disability, amongst others. These can either evoke positive or negative feelings about a person or group of people. And because these biases lie deep in our subconscious, most people are unable to easily understand and confront them. These attitudes form over the course of our life and are influenced by early life experiences and societal or community attitudes we were subjected to.

Who does it affect?

Who it affects? EVERYONE! Implicit bias lies within all of us. Even those who strive to have commitments to openness and a nonjudgmental mindset, often harbor as many as anyone else. And that’s okay because the more we know, the better we can do. If these unconscious attitudes are not in line with our chosen beliefs, we can grow though recognition of our biases and stop them before they influence our decision-making. Through education and awareness, we can address these lurking attitudes and assumptions before they affect our professional and personal decisions. In every interaction we have with another person, these unconscious attitudes and stereotypes are making split-second decisions about how we will engage with that person. This can be on a social level like meeting a new person at a coffee shop, to who we hire or promote, to how we engage with customers and even how professionals handle client or patient care.

We Can Change our Brains and Behavior!

Our brain is a work in progress, always growing and learning. Our brain can be taught to stop, recognize a bias, and not act on that instinct. Although implicit bias is part of our unconscious mind and is not subject to intentional control, we can gradually train our brain to disassociate with certain biases. We can also reach a level of awareness that allows us to make decisions without the overriding influence being our unconscious processes.  With time and attention, we will grow.

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