What Is Bias?

A bias is a tendency. Most biases—like preferring to eat food instead of paper clips, or assuming someone on fire should be put out—are helpful. But cognitive shortcuts can cause problems when we're not aware of them and we apply them inappropriately, leading to rash decisions or discriminatory practices. Relying on biases but keeping them in check requires a delicate balance of self-awareness.

Recent Posts on Bias

You Don’t Need to Have Racism in Your Heart to be a Racist

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on July 29, 2015 in More Than Mortal
In order to combat racism people need to understand that racism can exist without deeply held racist beliefs. Racist behavior is not always the result of conscious deliberation.

5 Strategies to Reduce Gender Bias Against Girls As Leaders

These 5 stategies for reducing gender bias were recently developed by researchers at Harvard University. These 5 easy tips have the potential to close the gender gap in leadership for teenage girls in the future.

Over Ego

To say that one is better than average is a famous bias from the social psychology textbook. In this better-than-average post, I show that it is not irrational to do so.

Stars, Bars, and Embryos

By Elliot Hosman J.D. on July 28, 2015 in Genetic Crossroads
The ideas of "choice" and "intent" have arisen in debates about both the confederate flag and prenatal genetic testing. But are these concepts insufficiently nuanced for these tough topics?

Why the Confederate Flag Had to Come Down

Taking the Confederate Battle Flag down from an honored position on the SCstate government grounds was important because a symbol of racial prejudice and bigotry was removed as a display of government support. Now when any citizen looks at the symbols of the SC government, there is nothing to suggest that one racial group is more important than another in that state.

Confirmation Bias and Stigma

Confirmation bias confirms not only expectations about the percept, but also those relating to the kind of world we live in and our role in it.

Stereotyping Stereotypes

By Jesse Marczyk on July 20, 2015 in Pop Psych
Have psychologists been stereotyping stereotypes as inaccurate, despite their predictive value?

Finding a New Job After 40

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on July 20, 2015 in Media Spotlight
Employment statistics show that the length of time spent being unemployed has tripled for workers over the age of fifty-five. Whether due to outdated job skills or age-related bias, older job seekers often find themselves being forced to drop out of the work force completely or taking jobs paying far less than what they once earned.

Culturally Induced Blindness

Can you answer this simple riddle or do you suffer from cultural blindness?

The Espy Award

I was disgusted after reading so many ignorant and hateful comments on social media towards Caitlyn Jenner specifically, and transgender people generally. I learned that many people were really upset that Caitlyn Jenner won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, particularly over Lauren Hill, who was a college basketball player who died a few months ago of brain cancer.

How the Brain Can Hear Voices That Don't Exist

By Guest Bloggers on July 17, 2015 in The Guest Room
Schizophrenic individuals who experience auditory hallucinations seem to hear voices emanating from within. Neuroscientists are investigating how and why this happens.

What to Say When There Are No Words

By Sheila Weinstein on July 17, 2015 in What Do I Do Now?
Bigotry is very much alive

Language Precision Helps Us to Educate and Learn

Imprecise use of language often reflects cloudy thinking, causes further clouding, and can cause serious harm.

A Better Way to Combat Anti-Semitic Bullying

By Izzy Kalman on July 16, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
A recent settlement of $4.5 million in the anti-Semitic anti-bullying lawsuit against the Pine Bush School District in Upstate New York is a questionable cause for rejoicing. The taxpayers will pay, the lawyers are the biggest beneficiaries, and it will probably do little to reduce bullying and anti-Semitism. My free manual can do a much better job with less effort.

10 Ways the Children of Single Parents Defy All Stereotypes

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on July 15, 2015 in Living Single
Here are 10 stereotype-defying scientifically-based facts about the children of single parents. Sometimes they do even better than the children of married parents. How is that possible?

After Charleston, what now?

We, as individual citizens of this nation, have been too passive in our encounters with language bigotry in our everyday lives. “It’s just a joke,” people say, and we take it as so. “Oh, they don’t really mean that; they’re just joking,” we say to ourselves and others to let it pass.

There Are Monkeys Everywhere

We who are sighted can be the blindest of all. We can confuse what we see with what is really there, but what we see has to be taught to our eyes/minds. Actually there are monkeys all around us. You just have to learn to see them I will tell you how.

A Flexible Path to Recovery for Individuals and Family

With its credentialed staff, Seasons in Malibu bucks the beachside recovery stereotype.

Familiar Stereotypes in Feminist Clothing

By Dara Greenwood Ph.D. on July 08, 2015 in Mirror, Mirror
Melissa McCarthy's new screwball action comedy "Spy" is successful for a reason: it's well-made and brilliantly acted. It even feels vaguely empowering, given that female leads (who don't look like Angelina Jolie) are near-absent from the action film landscape. However, underneath progressive trappings lurk various forms of sexism that should temper our applause.

A Few Confederate Flags Down, But Many Trappings Remain

By Robert Klitzman M.D. on July 07, 2015 in Am I My Genes?
Symbols of the Confederacy -- not only flags, but uniforms, and portraits of Robert E. Lee and other leaders -- persist in the South as potent symbols. Removing flags from state offices is important, but these other symbols, and the pervasive psychological attitudes they represent and reinforce, need to be eliminated as well.

We Can Dream: A Marginalized Peoples Version of ‘Inside Out’

'Inside Out' is the nation's #1 movie. Critics and audiences are raving about it. Adults cry because of it. Even scientists applaud its scientific accuracy. But how reflective is it of marginalized peoples' minds and lived realities? What would the 'Inside Out' movie look like if it explored the inner workings and psychological experiences of marginalized peoples? Read on.

Tim Hunt, Sexism and the Cult of Science

Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt 's comment that "girls" shouldn't do science with men went viral.—and opened up an important dialogue on the institutional sexism of the natural sciences and medicine. But that's not the whole story...

The Sexism in Science Controversies

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on July 02, 2015 in Rabble Rouser
Are scientific claims of sexism in science overstated?

How the Ownership of Something Increases Our Valuations

When we own something we begin to value it more than other people do.

Why Do We Misjudge Others

When we interact with a new person, our judgments are colored by our own past experiences, projections, and expectations.

Afraid of Dark: Film Explores Stereotypes About Black Men

By Kyle D Killian Ph.D. on June 30, 2015 in Intersections
"Afraid of Dark" documentary begins a conversation about the stereotypes African American males face on a daily basis.

What Does 'Girl Power' Really Mean?

In what ways is street harassment against women a larger indicator of rape culture in America?

Fighting Back Against Bias in "Intellectualism" or "Reason"

By Ravi Chandra M.D. on June 28, 2015 in The Pacific Heart
David Niose's arguments against anti-intellectualism are interesting, but betray some significant cognitive distortions. Reason, in the end, cannot be totally free of bias without humility and relationship.

Gay Marriage Ruling Is Matrimaniacal, Shames Single People

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on June 26, 2015 in Living Single
It is possible to expand the scope of social justice without declaring one class of people superior and derogating another. The SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage failed in that respect. We are all supposed to be equal under the law.

Gay Marriage, Racism, and Obamacare: The Challenge of Caring

The gay marriage struggle, modern racism, and the disregard for the poor shown in the opposition to Obamacare all have a common root. We are wired for empathy, but not for a sense of common humanity and emotional openness. The challenge is not that we do not care: it is that we do.