Unconscious bias 

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What is unconscious bias?

Bias is a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair.

Biases may be held by an individual, group, or institution and can have negative or positive consequences. 

There are types of biases:

  • Conscious bias (also know as explicit bias) and,
  • Unconscious bias (also know as implicit bias)

It is important to note that biases, conscious or unconscious, are not limited to ethnicity and race. Though racial bias and discrimination is well-documented, biases may exist toward any social or identity group. One’s age, gender, gender identity, physical abilities, religion, sexual orientation, weight, and many other characteristics are subject to bias.

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.

Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing (because our brains like order).

Unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with one’s conscious values. Certain scenarios can activate unconscious attitudes and beliefs. For example, biases may be more prevalent when multi-tasking or working under time pressure.