The Roots of Implicit Bias

Daniel A. Yudkin and Jay Van Bavel describe the experiments they ran and the conclusions they reached about implicit bias.

“But implicit bias is not about bigotry per se. As new research from our laboratory suggests, implicit bias is grounded in a basic human tendency to divide the social world into groups. In other words, what may appear as an example of tacit racism may actually be a manifestation of a broader propensity to think in terms of “us versus them” — a prejudice that can apply, say, to fans of a different sports team. This doesn’t make the effects of implicit bias any less worrisome, but it does mean people should be less defensive about it.

Furthermore, our research gives cause for optimism: Implicit bias can be overcome with rational deliberation.”


One Comment on “The Roots of Implicit Bias

  1. I found Daniel’s analogy interesting and thought provoking because he used a similar theory that Thomas Sowell explained as the fallacy of composition – where when something serves one part, therefore, can serve the whole. The point is that people differ and in our personal battle to judge, define, and identify good from bad or right from wrong we make decisions based on fear. Dr. Villoldo used an acronym for fear – False Evidence Appearing as Real. In our human effort to choose, we decide that differences are threatening to our self-being in some way and work hard against our perceptions of the threat. Sports teams represent an excellent example upon how individuals invest energy into defending, talking about each player, reviewing stats, wearing the team’s gear, and cheering in front of our televisions season after season for our team and against another team. Why? What is the real motivation? What are we gaining from this activity that fuels our sense of being who you are? How does the feeling of belonging, celebrating with others give us a stronger sense of self-value? I encourage you to reread the article to self-reflect upon whether your heart thoughts meet your lived actions.

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