Understanding Unconscious Bias

What is implicit, or unconscious, bias? These are assumptions, thoughts, and actions that we believe or act out without explicit thought.

There are some unconscious biases that are protective–ie, seeing a flame triggers a thought that it is likely hot, whic it.ch leads us to not touch it. However, there are unconscious biases that hurt those around us–such as having a preference for people who look like you, talk like you, and have a similar life to you. In preferring those who are similar, and conversely being biased against those who are different, we can perpetuate inequities.

Video Resources

Bystander Intervention

This video from University of Michigan staff members discusses bystander intervention skills for the purpose of building inclusive, respectful, and safe communities.

Unconscious Bias in Recruiting

How do our unconscious judgements of others affect our ability to recruit a diverse team? 

Hidden Biases of Good People

As part of the Tory Burch Foundation's Embrace Ambition Summit, Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji discusses how to determine our own biases in order to change behaviors.

Take an Implicit Association Test

Implicit Bias Tests from Project Implicit measure “attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report.” Choose from a variety of tests to understand your own implicit attitudes toward different genders, age groups, sexualities, races, and more.

About Project Implicit: Project Implicit was founded in 1998 by scientists from University of Washington, Harvard University, and University of Virginia to “educate the public about bias and to provide a virtual laboratory for collecting data on the internet.”

Learn More with These Resources

How Implicit Bias Harms Patient Care

Jeff Bendix. Medical Economics Journal. December 2019.

Implicit Bias in Healthcare: Clinical Practice, Research and Decision Making

Dipesh P Gopal, Ula Chetty, Patrick O'Donnell, Camille Gajria, and Jodie Blackadder-Weinstein. Future Healthcare Journal. March 2021.