I work at the Kirwan Institute for the study of Race and Ethnicity as a Research associate. I am one of the authors of our annual publication, The State of the Science Implicit Bias Review


Edit 1: I love you reddit! Well this is the most internet famous I've ever been and I'll ever be, Thank you all for making this happen; bet your bottom dollar this is going on my resume and my linked in! This also justifies my constant reddit-ing on my other account.. I have prepared for this day!

Edit 2: Hitting a bit of a lull so I should probably use this time to eat, drink, and be a human again. I'll be checking periodically throughout the next few hours--my hope is to get to every question. You guys have been great and asking some really challenging and insightful questions!

Here's a link to our main website at Kirwan where other great people do much better work than me http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/

Comments: 139 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

iloveh1tler18 karma

What is implicit bias?

YourBrainIsAJerk26 karma

Well our official definition is "the attitudes or stereotypes that impact our actions and decisions in an unconscious manner". But really it just means the automatic evaluations and stereotypes humans make about someone based on race, gender, age, etc.. People do this without trying to. Having bias doesn't make us bad, it makes us human. These biases instead reflect how our minds internalize our culture rather than personal intent to be biased, racist, sextist.. etc.

iloveh1tler17 karma

Ok. Thanks for the answer. Breaking down what you said a bit, (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) it appears that another way to view implicit bias would be a sort of filter we see the world through - ones worldview. This would be developed on personal experiences that one accumulates over time. Does this sound right?

YourBrainIsAJerk17 karma

Absolutely! Two of the most prominent researchers in the field in the field calls it a "blindspots"--they have a book with that title about how implicit biases help explain why so much disparities happen in a world where most people have good intentions.

iloveh1tler5 karma

Neat! What book would that be?

It is always helpful to either expand ones worldview or try to view the world through another. Do you have any recommendations for anyone that is looking to expand their worldview or trying to view the world through another?

Personally I have found reading helps a lot with this. Historical articles, journals, stuff where you can study people. Do you think this is a good way to go?

YourBrainIsAJerk10 karma

http://spottheblindspot.com/ Here's a link to their website! Any reading is good. I try to do a good mix of more academic research with historical books and memoirs.

Another quick resource that has to do with seeing the world through a different perspective is called "unpacking the invisible knapsack" which offers some examples White individuals may take for granted in how they navigate the world (e.g. skin-tone band-aids are for light skin tones). Here's a link https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/lewisjulie/White%20Priviledge%20Unpacking%20the%20Invisible%20Knapsack.pdf

iloveh1tler5 karma

That handout is an interesting read for sure. Would you happen to have any handouts like this that cover privileges others have (red and yellow black and white etc.)? I'm really interested in seeing them.

The book looks like a good read, I'll be sure to check it out.

YourBrainIsAJerk6 karma

Great! Here's a link to a buzzfeed video that included other factors like gender, class etc. As a research conscious person I won't go on record for vouching for buzzfeed's reporting accuracy, etc., but it is a good illustration of how privilege intersects multiple identities. Additionally, a lot of research focuses on the Black-White dichotomy, but there are a good bit of studies that go into the types of implicit biases that we all hold for other groups--one example is a study that showed that kids as young as middle school internalized the stereotype that Asians are good at math. A write up of the article is found on page 34 of our review: http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015-kirwan-implicit-bias.pdf

iloveh1tler3 karma

This is helpful, but I was hoping for something more like the first link you had that was relevant in the same scope applied elsewhere. Does anything like that exist? Or is something like that in the works by any chance? I really am interested in seeing the full scope of privilege in a neat list like that first one you provided.

On a side note, I have found that the black-white dichotomy is a very good starting point. There differences between the two that make them unique are staggering, and can really open the mind to how people are different, and would view and interact in the world differently.

EDIT: I'm sorry, but I do not see a link to the buzzfeed vid. Try again?

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

Woops, too much multitasking :). Here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ

treewiddle5 karma

This! I love you. I'm currently a senior at a university studying Communication, and I love stuff like this. We've learned about stereotyping, and what it does for both good and bad. The bad is obvious: it can create harsh communicative environments, racism, conflict both major/minor, etc. The good about stereotyping is something I think everyone should know. I have been told by my passionate professors that stereotyping helps us generate more understanding about an individual or culture, most times in order to maintain a conversation with a person or something in which we aren't familiar. Only when you really get to know a person is when stereotypes generally drop because it isn't necessary anymore to place that person in a category for us to understand than better.

YourBrainIsAJerk6 karma

Awe I'm blushing! Great feedback. I'd also say that the other side of having positive biases (as a opposed to negative biases) can be bad as well. Meaning I may give someone the benefit of the doubt, when they really deserve some additional feedback. We often only focus on how stigmatized groups have it worse off, instead of acknowledging that privileged groups often get off easy, and are missing genuine moments to receive critical feedback, learn and improve. Great point!

NotYourTA5 karma

As a professor of communication I'm happy to see you engaging with the material in such a wonderful way.

YourBrainIsAJerk2 karma

Thank you so much! I'm better inside the internet than I am in-person haha

jenbanim17 karma

What evidence is there for the external validity of tests like the IAT? Are we certain we're studying biases rather than familiarity for example?

Additionally, as someone pursuing a career in science, how can I make sure I view others based on the merits of their work, rather than letting my unconscious bias take over?

YourBrainIsAJerk8 karma

Hi! As a nerd I appreciate your question on external validity. Instead of re-inventing the wheel I'll direct you to project implicit's IAT FAQs https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/background/faqs.html But I will say that this test is highly controversial, so it has gone through the validity ringer more so than many other reputable psychological measures ( I have also linked other comments to our state of the science reports, a few of them have entire sections dedicated to the IAT/measurement for future reading)

As for your second point, this is a lifelong journey that we all must approach with a ton of humility and patience. But getting out of your comfort zone and interacting with folks that come from different background and being more mindful of your decisions is a great place to start!

jenbanim5 karma

Thanks for your response. Is there any further information available about the validity? I see the research has shown it is unlikely this test measures familiarity, but I'd like to know whether there are correlations with serious problems like hate crime. Such a correlation would provide more actionable information than what I've seen regarding the test so far.

Some further questions: Do scores on the IAT change after diversity training? Also, if the test doesn't measure familiarity, does this mean attempts to increase diversity will not be successful at removing the attitudes that caused the lack of diversity in the first place?

YourBrainIsAJerk4 karma

I've referenced the State of the Science implicit bias review in other posts. But we include a whole chapter on assessments and measurement on this year's edition http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/implicit-bias-2016.pdf starts at pg 51. There are a lot of research articles out there but of course there are limited access if you are not at a university or have a subscription so I try to refer to the SOTS whenever possible and I'd be happy to point you in the right direction if you wanted more leads.

I am not sure about hate crime specifically, but the salience of an event could definitely increase peoples likelihood of making or retrieving those associations

Hey sorry to leave this hanging! It must have slipped through! I really appreciate your thoughtful questions. I think there may be a couple things going on. My perception of the IAT's response is that it is not measuring novelty vs familiarity, Whereas the case for diversity of more of a perspective-taking/ empathy building argument rather than making the case for mere exposure. This is my perception on the matter so I wont speak for those who are more involved in the IAT or diversity work broadly.

MaximusGrande14 karma

I attended an implicit bias training event last year. I went with a very open mind hoping to learn a lot. Unfortunately I did not find the event terribly inspiring or helpful. Instead I felt like the speaker went out of her way to shame the white attendees and convince them that they are racist.

When we did a race association exercise to demonstrate that we all have some sort of implicit bias I could not for the life of me tell the difference between pictures of Caucasians and Latinos.

I know that I probably do hold biases (everyone does), but is the point of these trainings to help people recognize and overcome these biases or to guilt people?

Has implicit bias training been proven to actually help people overcome their racial biases?

YourBrainIsAJerk11 karma

Wellll I could say that the lovely trainers at the Kirwan Institute would neverrrr shame anyone!! (haha just a little shameless plug ;) ) . But one of the core assumptions of all of our trainings is that everyone in the audience has good intentions. Thus, the trainings are helpful for allowing organizations to create bias-thoughtful policies to discourage the expression of discrimination before it starts. As I referred to earlier, a goal of an implicit bias training at an HR firm could be implementing blind reviews to curb gender bias in hiring. The purpose for training should always be solution driven and focus on practices rather than just identifying bias purely for the sake of doing so. I am sorry that you had to sit through that and feel uncomfortable during the training!

MaximusGrande6 karma

Thank you for your response. The speaker we had is nationally recognized and highly regarded, which is why I found my experience so surprising.

But back to my second question, has implicit bias training actually been proven or shown to help people overcome their racial biases?

YourBrainIsAJerk7 karma

Hello again! Sorry to leave you hanging! I just answered this in another thread (admittedly I'm having a hard time keeping track) but the short answer was yes and no. Training depend on the context, domain, approach, and audience.. there too much variability to say training are a hard and fast way to mitigate bias, but some studies do suggest their ability to help in certain contexts, some show no effect, so it's hard to say and there's still very little data recorded on these so I'd be curious to know what the best practices are in year to come (we're begging to collect more rigorous data ourselves to find out exactly this question although not to publish but just as an internal measure of quality).

MaximusGrande2 karma

I think it is very important to understand if current training techniques are effective or possibly even come with negative consequences.

YourBrainIsAJerk6 karma

I completely agree, one of the worst things that can be done in academia or social justice is to say something is definitively helpful without tracking the data to show if it's actually the case. Some techniques for mitigating bias are definitely more sound than others.

rogue_scholarx9 karma

Mostly just curious, but are you aware of any studies or meta-analyses of how implicit bias and confirmation bias work alongside one another, particularly regarding political beliefs?

For others: confirmation bias is the system that essentially makes us assign more importance to an event that supports a pre-existing belief. It seems that a particularly strong implicit bias combined with confirmation bias could inadvertently drag people into certain political beliefs (i.e. regarding who uses welfare, etc.)

If not, researchers, feel free to borrow/steal this idea for your next study.

YourBrainIsAJerk8 karma

Yes Yes you rock! One of my favorite implicit bias studies has the intersection of confirmation bias. Here: http://www.nextions.com/wp-content/files_mf/14468226472014040114WritteninBlackandWhiteYPS.pdf However, this is not one related to politics. Unfortunatly I do not know one off the top of my head related to IB, CB, and politics (but that certainly doesn't mean one doesn't exist). We spend most of our time in the race lit so there may be ones on politicians and gender that I do not know of as well. However, there is some really good lit on IB and politics and race: http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/implicit-bias-2016.pdf page 72 has that year's write ups of politics and voting. Thanks!

rogue_scholarx3 karma

That's awesome, thank you so much for doing this.

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

They like me they really like me haha but really I'm just happy to get the work out there and I am so thankful for folks that appreciate it! Thanks you rock!

boston_shua8 karma

What are some small steps that people can take to minimize the negative effects of implicit bias in hiring?

YourBrainIsAJerk9 karma

Great Question! There are several strategies to reduce one's own individual biases (such as mindfulness, taking breaks, decreasing distractions etc..), but for hiring it's really important to build bias safeguards into the hiring process. An example could be ensuring that all hiring involves a multi-stage review. Another way is by removing identifiers (such as name, gender and race) from resumes and hiring materials. Utilizing data and concrete evaluation criteria is also a big one.. it removes the subjectivity from interviews just thinking someone is a good "fit"-- subjective and ambiguous evaluations are ones that are more likely to rely on bias.

boston_shua12 karma

removing identifiers (such as name, gender and race) from resumes and hiring materials

We're a small company, this is where I'll start.


YourBrainIsAJerk8 karma

Great! feel free to PM me in the future to let me know how it goes!

Berries_Cherries7 karma


Im an unpaid full powers police officer who has been required to undergo Implicit Bias training, my day job has me working upper management at a mid-sized defense industry company.

I have been through the training and been instructed that I was inherently racist through a testing process that was designed to produce that result (either "overcorrecting your internal racism" or demonstrating a "negative racial preference in enforcement").

What do you have to say to the scores of officers who believe that "Implicit Bias" does not exist as a meaningful externality?

YourBrainIsAJerk10 karma

Well... I'm a very nurture over nature leaning person, so I don't believe that anyone is "inherently" racist. I do believe that most people hold implicit negative biases as a product of things we see and learn in our environment (not that we intend to do so). There are many situations in an officer's day (like all of us) where these biases are likely to come out at one time or another. There are sometimes in a day where someone's biases won't impact their behavior. But I think in any case, it is good to be aware of them in order to stop and check ourselves during key decisions, and reminding ourselves that we cannot always be objective. That being the case, I don't believe officers are unique in that they are the most biased, it is just that that job is very high stakes and a biased decision can alter someones life (whereas if I act on my biases, I might just say something awkward of no consequence). But I think the criminal justice system is one that needs a lot of healing on both sides, both officers and civilians are hurt by racial trauma in the system (both current and historic) we need a lot of empathy and we need to move away from pointing fingers or "choosing sides" Thank you for your questions and I'm sorry that your experience with implicit bias training was not a positive one.

Berries_Cherries2 karma

most people hold implicit negative biases as a product of things we see and learn in our environment

Wouldn't that be a heuristic learning towards a pattern?

As far as "checking" ourselves during 'key' decisions I would like to know what evidence you have, as a researcher, that Implicit Bias training leads individuals (officers of employees) to check themselves before key decisions.

I would also like to know what you consider a 'key' decision for both of my roles;

a) Police Officer

b) Corporate Executive

YourBrainIsAJerk5 karma

Hi again. Great observation, heuristics and biases are very closely related and are often referred to as synonymous (i.e. heuristics are the rule, and the bias is the proclivity we lean to based on the rule). Although implicit bias training have shown positive results, the training are unique to an institution so I do not believe there is any research to say that all implicit bias training are helpful, but they depend very much on the content and the context. Usually this research focuses on one domain (e.g. a way to talk about bias in healthcare probably won't show up in the criminal justice literature, but it may).

a) decision for police officer -- who to stop in a traffic stop, when to let someone off with a warning vs citation, decisions to shoot, perceptions of neighborhoods--this is the majority of where the lit. lies for policing b) corporate: hiring decisions, promotiong, mentory, perceptions of competence.

So in each of these decisions/evaluations its important for all of us to think of what external factors may contribute to actions and perceptions at that time. Hope that helps!

Berries_Cherries1 karma

The decisions for an officer to stop someone for a traffic violation is almost always impossible to tell their race or gender. Warnings and Citations are pretty much based on the severity of the infraction/history (lots of tickets v. few) as well as the attitude which the subject they had during the stop which varies from officer to officer. Perceptions of neighborhoods are shaped more by presence of drug dealing (and what kind of drugs), gang activity, and crime rate/rate of call out.

As far as the shoot/no shoot repeated studies show a bias for white officers to take longer to shoot a black suspect than a white suspect under the same conditions whereas black officers do not have that problem.

As far as corporate I am totally unsold on diversity for the sake of ethnic or gender diversity. Show me diversity of ideas, politics, or education but I could give a fuck less whats between your legs or what color you are.

YourBrainIsAJerk6 karma

Thanks for replying. I'm on mobile now so I apologize for any errors or lack of clarity. To the last point I would posit that it is very difficult to gain a plurality of ideas backgrounds and experiences if the applicant pool is homogenous in term of gender or race but I'm also ok with agreeing to disagree. To your first couple points, this may not have been your personal experience but there is a wealth of public data that demonstrates disparities in traffic stops and searchers based on race. This year even states like NC, Vermont, and Minnesota demonstrated disparities by race that couldn't be attributed to the demographics, in fact disparities are often highest in areas that are predominantly White. The same is true for use of force data compared to the representation within the larger population. Many of these disparities are attributed to the tendency to perceive the behavior of racial monorities as more disruptive than if the same behavior was exhibited by a white person. Similarly, other studies showed that the number of black people in a neighborhood influenced people's perception of how dangerous that neighborhood was more than the actual presence of crime ( as indicated by the crime rates from those areas).

I feel compelled to share those things because it is what I read and what I do for a job; however I can also acknowledge that it seems like you don't feel like those findings reflect your lived experience. That is ok. I am not here to convince you otherwise, but to uplift the role of implicit bias or unconscious associations rather than saying that cops are racist or bad when these disparities are present. I am not anti cop by any means and have had officers come to my assistance in times of need that were greatly appreciated.

Berries_Cherries2 karma

To your first couple points, this may not have been your personal experience but there is a wealth of public data that demonstrates disparities in traffic stops and searches based on race.

The National Institute of Justice — DOJ study — disagrees with you the differences are the direct result of "differences in offending" rather than racism or implicit bias.

My problem is I see your role as something destructive to society in labeling everyone a racist and your research being used tp further that goal. I believe like many others that your research is pseudoscience that is more about correlation that causation where you are working backwards from your conclusion.

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

I have no intention of labeling anyone as a racist, in fact implicit bias helps explain why these disparities occur in the absence of overt racists. I should note that The report does not meaure implicit bias in order to rule it in or out as a factor ). It also notes in the profiling section : "Despite training to avoid discrimination, officers may still rely on cultural stereotypes and act on their perceptions of a person's characteristics (such as age, race or gender)." The DOJ is also a huge proponent exploring implicit bias research to better understand these disparities. I do however acknowledge and respect the concern that police should not shoulder the ultimate blame for these disparities. I agree. I also believe that monorities should not be charterized as offending more than whites. Both of these perspectives involve stereotypes and miss the full picture . Instead implicit biases explain how how perceptions from Both the officer and civilians perspective can be shaped because of race.. And these perceptions are all influenced by a long history of race relations in the criminal justice system. I've enjoyed chatting with you and hearing your perspective

MarleyandtheWhalers6 karma


I found a study online where you were supposed to press right for good or bad things, then press right for homosexual or heterosexual things. I guess it was trying to see if you implicitly wanted to say one sexuality or another was good or bad.

Are you familiar with the study? I think it came from Harvard. What do you think about that as a methodology?

YourBrainIsAJerk4 karma

Instead of re-inventing the wheel I'll direct you to project implicit's IAT FAQs https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/background/faqs.html But I will say that this test is highly controversial, so it has gone through the validity ringer more so than many other reputable psychological measures ( I have also linked other comments to our state of the science reports, a few of them have entire sections dedicated to the IAT/measurement for future reading)

Sorry to just copy and paste to another response but I believe this is the test you are referring to. I think it's one of the best tools for assessing implicit associations/evaluations. That being said, no tool is perfect and it's not the only options out there. In my personal opinion, I often recommend using the IAT. Thanks!

duetmimas6 karma

This is something that I have been thinking about recently, with the rise of Islamic extremism, the Black lives matter movement, and the way women are viewed. I've been thinking lately that part of it is ignorance of individuals, the fear of the unknown and unfamiliar, and negative bias. Therefore, is there a way that we can start to change the implicit bias of some people? (It seems that ALL white people to Muslims, blacks, and Hispanics are racists and participate in implicit bias - which itself is just negative bias)

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

Well, there are only two "interventions" that consistently facilitate the change of our biases from negative to positive (or negative to neutral, etc). This is different than ways to stop the expression of bias even if those biases still exist.

So the interventions that can change the biases themselves are "intergroup contact" which is just a researchy way of saying that being around people that aren't like you AND forming meaningful relationships with them is always going to change your perspective, because you no longer see someone as a representation of a larger group or stereotype, you can see the people around you as individuals (appropriately called "individuation"). The second is mindfulness, by training your attending, and regulation, we can all exert more top-down control on automatic processes like implicit bias. But this takes a considerable amount of time and effort (they both do) this does not happen overnight.

quixotic_pacifist3 karma

From what I understand, Implicit Association Tets (IAT) are conducted to reach many of the conclusions on the subject of implicit bias. IATs have been pretty unreliable, and historically have not shown any significant correlation with behavior outside of the test lab. What techniques were used to simulate real world behaviors, as opposed to biases seen on small sample sized tests, and how do you prove these biases aren't measuring in-group vs out-group biases, but more specifically racism, sexism, etc?

Additionally, what future do you believe this research will have on the real world. I ask because even strong proponents of IAT studies do not believe they should be used in the courtroom, the ultimate test for judging behavior. If it is not recognized as trusted science, what exactly are the purpose of implicit bias studies? We struggle to fix individual cases of racism. What makes anyone think a problem affecting 100% of people can be fixed if it can barely be proven to exist? Do you fear that calling people unknowingly biases (typically attached with a demeaning term, like racist, sexist, homophobe, etc) is in itself a form of bigotry? We don't accuse people of crimes in this manner. Proven, intentional behavior is the only standard we can judge people on, do you not agree?

YourBrainIsAJerk7 karma

Well, I do need to disclose my own viewpoint that I disagree with the unreliability of IATs. However, there is a problem with using the results in a real world situation (such as courts) because even if biases are present (as indicated by the IAT) it doesn't mean that people always act on biases in all times, there are plenty of circumstances that can increase or decreased our reliance on bias, so precluding individuals bases on a score is a little problematic. However, it is a great use as a talking point (some studies recommend it as such for the voir dire process, not as a form of exclusion).

To another one of your points, the IAT's track demographic data, so it happens that people hold implicit biases against their own ingroup. Eg. overweight folks internalize the negative feelings toward their weight because being skinny is often more valued, so even someone who is overweight may have a pro-skinny bias.. just an example.

I'd say the main reason implicit bias literature developed in the first place is because we keep perpetuating discriminatory behavior even when people don't explicitly support discriminatory values. It's a way of understanding why biased practices happen in the absence of overt racists.

To your final point, "disparate impact" is a standard for court that doesn't rely on individual intent or implicit bias, but in the result that occurs.

So even though we disagree about the IAT, I appreciate your critical thinking around the issue, especially in the application for courts

Oareo3 karma

Do you think everyone has an equal implicit bias? Sec Clinton in the debate said that its nothing to do with police culture or training, but that everyone would be shooting unarmed black teens if they were in that position.

It struck me as offensive that she called everyone racist and violent. Do you agree with her or is she exaggerating?

YourBrainIsAJerk12 karma

Hi and thanks for your question! First, I apologize if I misinterpret any aspects of your question. I think that saying that someone has an implicit bias and is more likely to shoot unarmed Black teen does not mean the same thing as saying someone is racist and violent-- I think that the racist and violent language implies intent to do harm where implicit biases can influence behavior even when someone is trying not to. Unfortunately, implicit bias shooter studies are well documented (e.g. the tendency to shoot an unarmed black target vs and unarmed white target). This goes back to the general association between Blackness and criminality, many folks harbor this bias (regardless of race) because it is a reflection of the stereotypes we all see on TV. I am in no position to interpret Sec Clinton, but i think that pointing out the implicit biases that influence officers and all of us to are the result of a flawed system, and not big bad racists that want to cause harm (even though those types of people do exist too). Some of our partners at Fair and Impartial Policing do a good job of talking about these shooter tasks and implicit bias in policing, their website can be found here http://www.fairimpartialpolicing.com/bias/ Again, great question.

Oareo3 karma

Thanks for the response. If there was a "score" for each persons implicit bias, which would be most accurate?

1) Most people have a score above the acceptable level to be a LEO (law enforcement officer). Meaning everyone needs to get better.

2) People with high scores are more likely to become LEOs. Meaning we need to hire different people.

3) Being a LEO raises your score. Meaning we need to change police culture/training.

YourBrainIsAJerk6 karma

Great Question! Negative biases toward groups that are stigmatized in our culture (racial minorities, people with disabilities, folks who are overweight) are VERY common (I believe 70% of individual have a moderate to high negative bias of those groups) So this would fall under point 1... however, the very nature of policing is an environment that those biases are more likely to be accessed during decision-making such high time constraints, life or death decisions, danger (whether real or perceived), and ambiguity. So that would speak more to number 3.. As far as point two, there is no literature to support that path of causality, that does not mean that is never the case, but it is the least supported of the three. Thanks for breaking this down and great question!

Oareo3 karma

Wow 70% is much larger than I would have guessed. Still not "everyone" but a large majority. Thanks for the info!

YourBrainIsAJerk4 karma

Exactly! Not everyone has all of the same biases, but there area certainly overarching trends, I will say that biases are a part of being human so we do all have them to some extent, but it may not be toward those identities that are highlighted in the media

schmerls3 karma

Besides working to change how you look, what are some things you can do to overcome other people's implicit bias that they make on you?

For example, if you have acne or are a POC, how would you overcome any biases in a job interview or when meeting new people? Is it best to just ignore those factors, or is there a certain framework that would be better to use?

YourBrainIsAJerk5 karma

That being said, if you or someone you know is interested in being connected with a specific advocacy group/ resource, feel free to PM me!

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

Great point. Knowledge of implicit bias is really great for correcting the biases that each of us have internally, but gets pretty depressing if you are on the receiving end of one of those biased groups (and we all are to some extent in one identity/setting or another).

First, I think knowing about implicit bias or "microaggression" provides a language for talking about these experiences without pointing fingers.

But this is only one step, there are all sorts of other structural, historic, and policy issues to consider for what perpetuates disparities in job interviews (keeping with your example). I am not one to say that there is a "best process" for grappling with the experience of discrimination. This is unique to everyone and can be very traumatizing. Unfortunately, it is often the task of the person who is discriminated against to educate the discriminator. This is why it is so important to uplift implicit bias work, to help everyone have a more healthy skepticism of our thoughts and actions.

Esdumby3 karma

Do you constantly have to defend your chosen area of study?

YourBrainIsAJerk4 karma

Hey, a question about my life and not the research! Thanks stranger! Honestly, no. I think the people who know me see it as a good fit, even if they do not fully support or understand the work I do. It's a good conversation starter/ ice breaker and a lot of people have at least heard the term and ask questions out of general curiosity rather than from opposition; which is why I love doing stuff like this-- Usually I'd just be doing the same thing on a friday evening, but tispy at a bar, and with less positive feedback haha!

An_Autistic_Thought3 karma

Have you done any research about the autistic brain and implicit bias? From my experience it seems that bias is one of the byproducts of having social programming, which autistic people are missing to a large extent.

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

I have not, nor do I know of any. Because of how psychological research is conduct, studies almost always rely on a random sample or a sample similar to that being tested (e.g. matching participants based on race or gender). So I don't think the field as a whole knows much about individual differences in the population.. That is a very interesting point!

mguzman0113 karma

How do you think implicit bias affects education? I'm doing a big paper about this, and it'd be interesting to hear your perspective on it.

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

It affects it a lot!! This is actually my area of interest and the last couple years of our State of the Science have some really interesting studies related to implicit bias in education. http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/implicit-bias-2016.pdf starts on page 34 for the 2016 version. the Okonofua and Eberhardt piece is my favorite. We also have work specifically dedicated to school discipline on our website (although not solely IB we do use that as a lens for understanding what the data analyses reveal : http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/researchandstrategicinitiatives/school-discipline/ Hope you find something you can use and good luck on your paper!

you_chosethis3 karma

Hello Kelly! I brought this up to my science teacher last week and he wouldn't answer my question. And whenever I bring this up as a genuine inquiry online, others are fast to call me names instead of engaging in an honest discussion.

We can talk about animals honestly and objectively. For example, no one get upset when you state that Siberian Huskies and Beagles are both dogs who can mate with each other, after all they are of the same species. But they also look different, have different colored eyes/fur, and most importantly have different temperaments that allow them to good at different things. No one finds these differences offensive, they are just what they are. But apply this line of thinking to people and everyone gets up in arms. Is it that hard to believe similar genetic differences exist between people and even genders? Whenever these differences are pointed out you will find words "racist" or "bigot" attached to them. For example there is nothing bigoted about pointing out that men physically stronger than women. Or that African Americans are more prone to diabetes than Caucasians. Why is the topic so snuffed, even when the science behind genetics all proves that the differences are there?

I guess my questions to you is why are discussions that focus on biological and hereditary differences so taboo in social science? Don't you feel like they stifle honest discussions? Furthermore, what are you doing to keep these discussions honest?

YourBrainIsAJerk6 karma

Thanks for sharing this question! Especially since talking about race and gender can be difficult. I think where there may be a potential barrier in this conversation is whether differences are in fact genetic/biological or environmental. First, these difference influences on behavior, skin color etc.. are not mutually exclusive (see some discussion on epigenetics for review.. this is not may area of expertise but is a very extensive body of work). Race in a purely skin tone sense is a very poor predictor of genetic ancestry-- If you can see my profile picture, I am very White but my mom's side of the family is actually from Columbia-- this is an example of why race as we understand and perceive it is more socially constructed that biological or genetic. For gender it is a little more complicated because both biological and social factors construct gender. In terms of your specific diabetes example, many health adversities experienced by minority groups are a product of having poor food access, or living in a more adverse environment (we would call this an environmental determinant of health or structural disadvantage) vs. any biological differences.

To your other points, I think having an open honest dialogue around race is exactly what we need. Hope this helps your searching. I think there are ways to facilitate productive dialogue and challenge ourselves regarding our own biases, but there are a lot of factors to consider. We have some resources for facilitating discussions around race if you are interested. Just PM me if so!

edit: TLDR: Skin tone does not equal race or ancestry so much of how humans understand race is socially constructed, gender too (but not to the same degree in all cases) and our environment is a huge determinant of social differnces edit 2: typo

[deleted]-5 karma


YourBrainIsAJerk11 karma

You're right, I only used the example to illustrate more of a skin-tone place of origin expectation, purely anecdotal.

Regarding the IQ tests, these are very historically biased against other background and cultures--even to the point that some states won't allow them in their assessment of disability process. This happens because the normative sample for many of these tests were biased in the first place or weighted moral/etiquette decisions as a measure of intelligence. One example (I believe it was the WISC) included a question about what you would do if you found a wallet-- this question purportedly assesses raw intelligence, but it's easy to see how contextual factors like poverty could influence this measure.

I definitely do believe that IQ, temperament, or physical ability are very environmentally driven and not an accurate measure of genetic differences, especially as they pertain to race (but also gender). One thing that we've learned from implicit bias research is that seemingly unbiased ratings (such as the quality of a memo) can be influenced by race or gender, even if all other factors are identical (e.g. exact same memo but written race of the author was changed).

To get at the genetic vs social construction of race, here's a really good article in Science mag http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6273/564

I'm not sure I understand your last paragraph, could you explain further?

Finally, I don't think this disagreement means that dialogue should be hindered. And I appreciate your openness in discussing the issue

FanOfGoodMovies2 karma

If minority kids grow up believing in negative biases about themselves, could that cause them to under-perform and would they then still be at a disadvantage even with a blind evaluation of their accomplishments?

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

Great question. This reasoning is exactly why desegregation occurred in the first place. The iconic doll study (more modern recreations shown here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkpUyB2xgTM .. sorry for bad video quality) Gave evidence of the harm in internalizing negative stereotypes. This isn't implicit bias research, but stereotype threat research shows just how detrimental those internalized biases can be for our young people.

kabukistar2 karma

I took an implicit bias test online. There were a variety of different tests to determine (for example) whether you had an implicit bias as women being less competent than men, and one to see if you saw blacks as more dangerous than whites. There was no IB test regarding if you see men as more dangerous than women, though. This is a significant stereotype that seemed to be missing from the tests.

Have you ever studied whether people have an implicit bias to see men as more dangerous than women? If so, what were the results? If not, why not?

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

In terms of the implicit bias literature, I do not conduct my own experimental research, my work focuses on aggregating other's research into a literature review. Just had to get that out there because I don't want to misrepresent myself (although I do perform data analyses and other research duties for some of my other work). To my knowledge there is not specific implicit bias test regarding that stereotype, but there maybe some evidence in more of the gender norms literature (although it may not be purely implicit bias). We focus on race at my workplace so I'm definitely not the most knowledgeable when it comes to specific stereotypes within other populations. Good luck if you do search. Let me know if you find anything.

lurkergroove2 karma

Are there any empirical ways to measure implicit bias through acquisition?

YourBrainIsAJerk2 karma

I'm not sure I understand the question. I also forgot to eat because I'm so excited to be on the Internets, so I'm not on my A-game. Can you clarify?

johnnynoname122 karma

I was born in America but my parents were both born in Italy

they came over...my mom became a citizen and my father,well, um he isn't a citizen

I refer myself as being "American"

That prefaced--am I correct in calling myself "American" and not "Italian American"?

I only have citizenship to this country

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

You are correct in identifying yourself in however you feel best represents you. People choose both ways and there's not right answer. But people may refer to you as the other just out of habit so just let them know if that doesn't feel right to you. Hope that helps!

leaveworldbetter2 karma

WHat do people misunderstand the most about "bias"?

YourBrainIsAJerk2 karma

Great question! I think that people are so defensive and afraid of being called a racist that they infer having bias means the same thing. In reality it is just a natural proclivity based on how human interact in the world. Even if someone has biases there are ways to prevent oneself from expressing bias in a way that harms others. Bias doesn't equal intent. Thanks for asking!

alphapig131313131 karma

How do you recommend one identifies and quantifies bias in scientific papers?

YourBrainIsAJerk2 karma

Hello sorry to get to this late, also on mobile so I apologize if my spelling is a mess. Most research studies will use an implicit bias measure such as the implicit association test (IAT) or The attitude miss attribution procedure (AMP) I've linked to the state of the science report elsewhere in the thread which included a full section on measures and methodology used in the field. Also the IAT is available online by searching "project implicit" if you're curious. Hope that helps!

LuxNocte1 karma

How can we try to minimize the effect of implicit bias in our actions?

Is their any way for an institution, for example a police department, to implement procedures to try to minimize implicit bias.

YourBrainIsAJerk5 karma

Instituting accountability is the first step for any major organization. Having traceable goals and ways to measure them. For police officers it may be analyzing race or gender disparities in traffic stops and instituting internal checks and balances to work against those. This could also mean body cameras or simply just using professional development time to learn about how biases manifest in any given system. The effects of bias in the criminal justice system look very different than the effects of bias in education, even though some of the same implicit associations or stereotypes fuel those decisions. The State of the Science (my organization's publication) includes a section on mitigation strategies in each edition. They are all available online here http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/researchandstrategicinitiatives/implicit-bias-review/

foxden_racing1 karma

Hi! This is one of those things that bugs me...as a professional, how nasty is that gray area of "Is this implicit bias, or are we jumping at shadows?" I'm wondering what a professional's perspective is, since it's a perspective I don't (and can't, as it's not my line of work) have.

To give a little more insight into the context I'm working with...as someone who isn't a professional, especially coming from a position where the most visible are those who come at it with a "this is a foregone conclusion, and now have to justify it" approach, it seems to be pretty common among the laymen; that worries me, since it seems like it would undermine all you guys are trying to accomplish.

YourBrainIsAJerk5 karma

Well the very nature of implicit bias makes it difficult to identify. Without research I doubt someone could definitively point it out in ow others act, much less in their own actions. That being said, so much about mitigating bias depends on building those safeguards so we don't have to always analyze every single decision we make to try to identify bias.. that's not a good use of anyone's time.. well maybe it's a good use of my time but I digress... haha

edit: just wanted to say this comes up a lot in our work and I want to stress that preventing bias and "jumping at shadows" or even feeling like the sky is falling, can be a fine line.. it takes some delicacy and humility and practice. Great observation/question!

foxden_racing2 karma

Thank you for a thoughtful answer!

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

Thoughtful questions deserve thoughtful answers (even though I might not be the most thoughtful or coherent at this time haha!)

giantsfan971 karma

Hi Kelly:

I'm a recruitment advisor who trains search committees on best practices in recruiting. Part of my training goes over how implicit bias (we call it unconscious bias) can affect decision making in the hiring process. Two questions for you:

1) Any recent studies you could link to that demonstrate bias in hiring practices with regards to women and/or people of color?

2) In your opinion, what is the best way for someone to limit implicit bias in their hiring decisions? (My advice to them is to be aware that they have bias and acknowledge it, then to be vigilant in the applicant review process by slowing down and not letting "autopilot" take over.)


YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

Hello! Finally something I can do ;) Fortunately the implicit bias literature for hiring is quite rich!

1) As far as resources go, I have to keep shamelessly plugging our State of the Science Reports http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/researchandstrategicinitiatives/implicit-bias-review/ I believe all except the 2013 edition have an entire section dedicated to employment decisions!

2) The two that are great first steps are coming up with objective evaluation criteria (preferably numeric) around the job description. Bias happens when we subjectively think someone is a good "fit" esp. if that person reminds us of ourselves (affinity bias). Giving someone a 4/5 on a leadership experience rating is much less likely to invite bias than a written summary of "is a good leader" .. etc, Second is to have a blind review as part of the search stage. That doesn't mean resumes always have to have identifiers removed (e.g. race, age, gender, name) but it should happen at some part in the process to ensure that quality ratings are consistent with and without identifiers (it helps if half the committee gets blinded resumes and half doesn't, or organizing it some other way). I hope that's a good starting point!

giantsfan972 karma

Thanks for the response! We definitely use rubrics with the criteria as relevant to the job as possible.

Wondering what you think about this: our organization values diversity to the extent that we ask our candidates to talk about diversity in their cover letters and during interviews. We believe that diversity in the workplace has an inherent benefit to all, and therefore are willing to consider a candidate's diversity (and cultural competency) along with all the other more standard job relevant criteria.

YourBrainIsAJerk4 karma

THAT IS AWESOME!!! I think a lot of folks fail to realize how much an institutional culture can do for countering the norms of society. If your organization champions diversity internally, then that becomes the new norm/expectation! Great work! You should be doing an AMA haha

phelatiofyllis1 karma

What institutions do you primarily focus on, and which institutions have given the more fascinating results?

How often do you run into explicit bias when researching or teaching about implicit bias, and what methods do you use to curve explicit bias?

In Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, eliminating bias (implicit and otherwise) required fully blind tests. Is there a simpler method of minimizing implicit bias rather than conducting interviews/auditions blindly?

Does the IAT do anything beyond proving specific biases; and if so what does it show?

YourBrainIsAJerk3 karma

I mainly focus on education, and somewhat housing. Not sure if fascinating in the right word but education is always depressing and full of disparities haha-- but i love the neuroscience and perception work, it really demonstrates how automatic processes are impacted by race--e.g. we're really bad at accurately perceiving the emotions of faces that are outside our racial group.

Blinding resumes is a great tool but even that isn't perfect--our job experience and activities may provide information that cues the reader to think about our gender or race. But anything to reduce distractions/ cognitive load and keep the evaluators accountable (e.g. utilizing data) decreases the likelihood that someone will rely on their biases when making decisions. I gave some feedback specific to hiring elsewhere in this thread if that's what you're interested in!

The IAT tests both evaluations (good vs bad) and stereotypes (gender-career association) but doesn't have any application in the test itself. However other researchers use the IAT to examine how our biases predict those actions.

spicycabbage1 karma

I just took this online test, https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html, what can you say about its accuracy?

YourBrainIsAJerk1 karma

I think it's the best tool we currently have to measure implicit biases in terms of the scrutiny it has been though ( it is a very controversial topic of course) but of course there's other opinions in the field and I respect those as well. Here's a link to our lit review.. In the section on the IAT we include summaries of articles capturing both the criticism and support of this measure http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014-implicit-bias.pdf it starts on page 31. The test website itself has an excellent FAQ page that gets into the details of how thy actually score bias and how the trials are ordered. Each FAQ also links to the original article as well

spicycabbage1 karma

do you watch game of thrones?

YourBrainIsAJerk1 karma


spicycabbage1 karma

favorite character?

YourBrainIsAJerk1 karma

Hmmm tough one but either Tyrion or Khaleesi

noname0011 karma

Has there ever been a study on implicit bias when it comes to dating and relationships? Specifically, apps like Tinder and OkCupid. I remember an extensive data analysis by OkCupid on race and preferences across genders and geographies which I found fascinating but it was pure/raw data analysis rather than a social science analysis.

YourBrainIsAJerk2 karma

I think I saw one come on my radar recently, but a lot of these are more anecdotal and don't get published in research journals (which is where most of our article logging takes place). But I think apps and technology will be the next focal area of where implicit bias can take place-- I can already say that we will probably have a few articles on tech in the next years addition's of the State of the Science, based on what's come through already. Not a dating app, but Airbnb just went on record addressing that their platform let to discrimination. I give them a huge amount of credit for taking on the issue and releasing a statement/practices to improve how their company works. Great question, I'd be curious to see more in the future.

noname0011 karma

Thank you. I see tech companies funding research on social science for discrimination studies (including implicit bias). There is so much money and resources put in within tech companies to make them an EEO with almost no results. The work you do is extremely important and unique that might actually help achieve results.

YourBrainIsAJerk2 karma

Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtful questions! Feel free to PM me in the future if you see anything related to dating apps/technology, I'm always trying to find the most current application for implicit bias work.

NaNKeyboardMonkeys-4 karma

Why is it that myself and people like myself seem to be immune from having an implicit bias but everyone else out there is somehow universally affected by this?

YourBrainIsAJerk5 karma

Hello and thanks for sharing!! We'll I'd challenge you to explore some identities/situations where you may have biases, you never know what you might find... Even if it's not toward some of the identities that folks are more commonly biased toward, who knows? Perhaps you have experience with a wide range of people groups, less exposure to the media? Trust me, I'd love to hear your secret!!

WhiteNitro69-9 karma

What is the best thing about getting paid to make things up?

YourBrainIsAJerk11 karma

Well fortunately for me, my main job is conducting literature reviews that consist of really innovative work being done across the country-- so all volumes of the State of the Science are stuffed full of citations and only contain our perspective if noted.. so there's really not too many opportunities to make stuff up on my end ;)