Implicit bias, as defined by the Kirwan Institute, refers to attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which can be favorable or unfavorable, are activated involuntarily and without awareness or intentional control. Our implicit associations, developed through direct and indirect messages and information over the course of our lifetimes, generate feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age and can motivate behaviors as well.
Racial anxiety is the brain’s stress response before or during an inter-racial interaction. People of color may worry that they will be subject to stereotyping or discrimination, while white people may worry they will be assumed to be racist or met with distrust. This worry can then lead to less productive interactions, setting up a negative feedback loop.
Stereotype threat occurs when a negative stereotype about one’s own identity group is activated, thereby impairing one’s cognitive function and often causing underperformance on a task (potentially then confirming the stereotype we were unconsciously worried about.
State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2015
Released on an annual basis, the Kirwan Institute’s State of the Science tracks the growing field of implicit bias with a focus on the latest research. In addition to tracking trends, this publication provides a detailed discussion of new literature in the realms of criminal justice, health, and health care, employment, education, and housing, as well as the latest ideas for debiasing.
Implicit Association Test (IAT)
Test your own unconscious, subconscious, and hidden biases and learn about implicit bias through Project Implicit, based out of Harvard.
Rethinking Thinking (TED Talk)
Every day, we meet people and process our interactions – making inferences and developing beliefs about the world around us. Here, Trevor Maber introduces us in a 5 ½ minute animation video to the idea of a ladder of inference and a process for rethinking the way we interact.
Implicit Bias in the Courtroom
This law review article from 2012 introduces implicit bias, applies the science to two trajectories of bias in the courtroom (criminal and civil) and explores intervention strategies to counter implicit biases in the justice system.
The Danger of a Single Story (TED Talk)
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie, author of Americanah, tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
Implicit Bias in School Discipline (Kirwan Institute)
This webpage features research on racialized discipline disparities in K-12 public education. This research seeks to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by focusing on implicit racial bias as a contributing factor to persistent discipline disproportionality.
Implicit Bias: How Should Psychological Science Inform the Law? (Greenwald video)
Science of Equality: Addressing Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat in Education and Health Care (Perception Institute)
Detailed definitions of terms as well as examples of how implicit bias, racial anxiety, and stereotype threat lead to negative outcomes for students and patients of color.
Our Brains and Difference: Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat in Education (Perception Institute)
Summary of Debiasing Techniques (Bill Kennedy)