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.
Implicit Bias Test-Harvard University
"Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition - thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet.
Implicit Association Test
"Implicit Association Test," offers one way to probe unconscious biases. In this 10-minute test, you will be presented with words or images and asked to respond as quickly as possible. At the end, your responses will be tallied so that you can see how your score compares to others and to your expectations (these responses will also be saved and tabulated as part of an investigation of implicit associations).
Unconscious prejudices and negative attitudes toward certain groups of people can compromise good health care when those prejudices involve patients or make the clinical workplace more difficult. Research shows that these unspoken biases can be changed, but individuals must recognize that they have them in the first place.
These eight tactics, which spell out “IMPLICIT,” can help you mitigate your own implicit biases:
Introspection: Explore and identify your own prejudices by taking implicit association tests or through other means of self-analysis.
Mindfulness: Since you’re more likely to give in to your biases when you’re under pressure, practice ways to reduce stress and increase mindfulness, such as focused breathing.
Perspective-taking: Consider experiences from the point of view of the person being stereotyped. You can do this by reading or watching content that discusses those experiences or directly interacting with people from those groups.
Learn to slow down: Before interacting with people from certain groups, pause and reflect to reduce reflexive actions. Consider positive examples of people from that stereotyped group, such as public figures or personal friends.
Individuation: Evaluate people based on their personal characteristics rather than those affiliated with their group. This could include connecting over shared interests.
Check your messaging: As opposed to saying things like “we don’t see color,” use statements that welcome and embrace multiculturalism or other differences.
Institutionalize fairness: Support a culture of diversity and inclusion at the organizational level. This could include using an “equity lens” tool (multco.us) to identify your group’s blind spots or reviewing the images in your office to see if they further or undercut stereotypes.
Take two: Resisting implicit bias is lifelong work. You have to constantly restart the process and look for new ways to improve.
Read the full FPM article: “How to Identify, Understand, and Unlearn Implicit Bias in Patient Care.”
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