What is implicit bias?

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What is implicit bias?

Many people try to control their biases, but that’s difficult to do if someone doesn’t know he or she has them.

But people have unconscious biases that can affect decision making.

“Implicit bias is the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner,” said Kelly Capatosto, research associate at Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

These biases can affect who a person wants to be friends with or how job candidates are selected, even when someone tries to remain impartial.

“It’s often times an overconfidence in objectivity that’s really allowing some of these thought processes and some of these decision-making areas to go unchecked,” she said.

Researchers have found in the courtroom racial information affects judges and jury members’ decisions instead of just the facts.


Kelly Capatosto, Research Associate

“If we have something primed in our mind we might falsely recall what someone looks like,” Capatosto said.

Capatosto wrote a report about how implicit bias can affect people of color in the justice system, which recommends awareness so biases can be challenged and explored.

“This is a reflection of the society that we live in… and not a reflection of who we are as a human being,” she said. “We can really start to challenge ourselves… once we start to learn where our weaknesses are and where there are some areas we can improve.”

Test for implicit biases using Harvard’s tool.

Hear the interview with Kelly Capatosto on Here and Now fetauring the Sound of Applause today at 12:33 p.m. and in the audio player above. 

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