What is bias?
- Bias is a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others, which often results in treating some people unfairly.
- Explicit bias refers to attitudes and beliefs (positive or negative) that we consciously or deliberately hold and express about a person or group. Explicit and implicit biases can sometimes contradict each other.
- Implicit bias includes attitudes and beliefs (positive or negative) about other people, ideas, issues, or institutions that occur outside of our conscious awareness and control, which affect our opinions and behavior. Everyone has implicit biases—even people who try to remain objective (e.g., judges and journalists)—that they have developed over a lifetime. However, people can work to combat and change these biases.
- Confirmation bias, or the selective collection of evidence, is our subconscious tendency to seek and interpret information and other evidence in ways that affirm our existing beliefs, ideas, expectations, and/or hypotheses. Therefore, confirmation bias is both affected by and feeds our implicit biases. It can be most entrenched around beliefs and ideas that we are strongly attached to or that provoke a strong emotional response.
Resources for Examining Personal Bias
- Video and transcript from Facing History and Ourselves: Binna Kandola: Diffusing Bias.
- Credit for the content of this section: Facing History and Ourselves. Lesson 3: "Confirmation and Other Biases."
- Watch: Defining Confirmation Bias
- Read: How to Escape Your Political Bubble for a Clearer View