What Is Bias?

A bias is a tendency. Most biases—like the preference to eat food instead of paper clips—are helpful. But cognitive shortcuts can cause problems when we're not aware of them and apply them inappropriately, leading to rash decisions or discriminatory practices. Stereotype threat, for example, is the confirmation of negative stereotypes about another person's race, gender, group, and so on. Relying on biases but keeping them in check requires a delicate balance of self-awareness.

Recent posts on Bias

Evergreen College, the Rejection Complex, and Bullying

Evergreen State College was recently in turmoil. There were accusations of racism and bullying along with threats and a show of riot police. What's underneath the hysteria?

Is Implicit Bias a Useful Scientific Concept?

Fewer people than ever before say they are racially prejudiced, yet racial disparities persist. Is implicit bias a viable scientific explanation?

Pride in Mental Health: Advocacy

An interview with Jillian Weiss of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Calvin Stowell of DoSomething.org.

Monumental Los Angeles Bullying Verdict Rewards Homophobia

By Izzy Kalman on June 23, 2017 in Resilience to Bullying
No one seems to realize that an unprecedented award of $17.4 to a homophobe in a Los Angeles workplace bullying lawsuit represents the ultimate insult to the gay population.

The Badass Personalities of People Who Like Being Alone

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on June 21, 2017 in Living Single
What are the personality characteristics of people who like spending time alone? What about people who are unafraid to be single? Four studies offer an affirming profile.

Beliefs: Twelve Myths You'll Be Relieved to Debunk

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on June 20, 2017 in Ambigamy
Getting realistic about beliefs can go a long way toward peace of mind and better decision-making.

Small Samples, Big Hopes

If you observe an event (datum) 3 standard deviations away from the theoretical prediction, do you do a significance test?

Innovation Handmaids

By Moses Ma on June 18, 2017 in The Tao of Innovation
What can The Handmaid's Tale teach us about technology innovation?

Sins of the Mothers: Perpetuating Older Feminine Stereotypes

Sometimes it's the little things that count when trying to change things up for future generations of girls.

Statistics as a Social Process

Statistics is a bag of tools for inductive inference. No more. Do not be afraid.

How Accurate Are You at Judging Personality?

Do you consider yourself a good judge of personality? New research provides clues on how to improve this important asset.
BBernard_Shutterstock

Will the Real Black Dad Please Show Up?

By The Research Lab on June 16, 2017 in The Fundamentals
Reflecting on the reality of black fatherhood.

Study Shows a Bias for Evidence of What We Want to Be True

New experimental findings suggest that we seek and stress corroborating evidence based on what we desire.
Perri Corvino/Used with permission

Hidden Bias and Racism

A social worker shares his struggle with unconscious attitudes. By Stephen Friedman, LCSW

Connecting the (Hidden) Dots

By Po Chi Wu Ph.D. on June 09, 2017 in Jacob's Staff
What dots do we choose to form patterns? What patterns make sense to us, and which dots are discarded? What dots do we infer?

Is Teaching Tolerance the Solution or the Problem?

Tolerance is part of discrimination, which explains why we have intolerance. Acceptance is the answer, not tolerance.

Is Your Company’s Diversity Training Making You More Biased?

By David Rock on June 07, 2017 in Your Brain at Work
Corporate inclusion programs often create an "us versus them" mindset. But establishing shared goals can help get teams on track.

If Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, Why Didn’t You Hire Me?

By Dawn R. Norris, Ph.D. on June 07, 2017 in The Next Step
It’s not your imagination—workplace age discrimination is real.

Understanding Bias, Prejudice, and Violence

If we want to understand bias and prejudice, it might help to understand infant development—feelings and how they work—and evolution.

Breaking News—Is it Fake or Real?

These tips will help you avoid ‘myside bias,’ recognize types of fake news.

Does It Really Matter How We Talk About Addiction?

Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. When talking about addiction, the truth of this age old adage rings empty. In this article, find out why.

Marriage: How We Got It So Wrong for So Long

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on June 03, 2017 in Living Single
If you wanted to answer the question, “If you get married, will you get healthier or happier,” how would you do it? The best studies are challenging our longstanding beliefs.

Confronting Complex Multiracial Realities

Social psychology professor Saera Khan discusses the complexities of multiracial identity, prejudice, and discrimination in our especially tense sociopolitical climate.

Denmark Declassifies Transgender as Mental Illness

Transgender is not considered to be a mental illness in Denmark, making it the first country to remove the link between transgender identity and mental illness.

Please Don’t Call Me “Hon”

By Susan Hooper on May 29, 2017 in Detours and Tangents
When strangers call me “Hon” or “Dear,” I am not pleased. They may not realize it, but it sounds both sexist and ageist to me.
Public domain

The Healing Power of Placebos: Fact or Fiction?

By Joe Pierre M.D. on May 25, 2017 in Psych Unseen
Does new research really prove that placebos don't require deception?

Celebrate Graduation! Booster Shots Advised!

A "booster shot" of self-affirmation at the start of the academic year can have amazing effects on student accomplishment.

What Is Holding Women Back from Success in Business?

Why are women at a disadvantage in the business world?

Are Dogs Self-Aware?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on May 24, 2017 in The Human Beast
The standard test of self-awareness is being able to recognize ourselves in a mirror. Although chimpanzees pass this test with flying colors, dogs flunk.

Born Both: Intersex and Happy

By Ariel Gore on May 24, 2017 in Women and Happiness
"I want parents to know that intersex kids can decide who they are for themselves and have that turn out beautifully."