Implicit Bias

What is Implicit Bias?

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

Who does it affect?

EVERYONE! Implicit bias lies within all of us. Even those who are committed to maintaining a nonjudgmental mindset harbor as many of these attitudes as anyone else. And that’s okay. Even if these unconscious attitudes are not in line with our chosen beliefs, we can grow though recognition of our biases.  Through education and dedication, we can address these lurking biases to prevent them from negatively affecting our professional and personal decision-making. In every interaction we have with another person, our unconscious attitudes and stereotypes are impacting the split-second decisions about how we will engage with that person. These decisions happen in social situations- such as when we casually meet someone new in a coffee shop- and in professional ones- such as when we are hiring and promoting employees or engaging with customers and clients.

Can We Change Our Brains and Behavior?

ABSOLUTELY! 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 the instinct that it evokes. 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 prevents our unconscious processes from overriding thoughtful decision-making. With time and attention, we will grow.

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