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

Prestige, Power, and Placebos

Intuitive errors and social pressures often fool us into the wrong decisions. But our social minds also possess untapped healing power. Recent research shows us how to use it!

Helpful Hacks for Conducting Research With Older Adults

By Christina M. Pierpaoli on March 18, 2017 in Eng(aging)
A psychologist-in-training discusses sources of error in geropsychologial research and clever, practical ways of managing them.

Looking Through the Eyes of Another

By Tara Brach Ph.D. on March 17, 2017 in Finding True Refuge
What would it be like, in this moment, to look through another’s eyes? To widen the circles of compassion and be part of the healing of our world?

A Nose Away From Beautiful

Besides its critical function in smell and breathing, the cartilaginous protrusion we call nose has long been crucial in considerations of human beauty. How could this not be so?

The Better Angels of Our Nature

By Hank Davis on March 14, 2017 in Caveman Logic
It sometimes seems impossible to find those "better angels" inside ourselves and resist the lure of of meanness and bigotry that's all around us.

9 Ways to Respond To Social Identity Threats

Since the presidential election, several sources have indicated that hate crimes and hate speech have increased.

The Cost of Choosing Not to Have Kids: Moral Outrage

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on March 12, 2017 in Living Single
Married people who choose not to have kids elicit moral outrage. They are also judged as less fulfilled than married people who do want kids. But what if they were single?

We're Wired to Take the Path of Least Resistance

By Caroline Beaton on March 11, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
A recently-published study discovered something we knew but denied: we're wired to take the path of least resistance.

Go Back to Your Country

Are your biases literally causing other people to suffer from mental health issues?

Cultivating Smarter Prejudices

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on March 10, 2017 in Ambigamy
An exploration of what prejudice really is, why we need it, how prejudices go wrong, and how to argue for better prejudices.

On Criminology and Politics in the Social Sciences

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on March 09, 2017 in More Than Mortal
A biosocial criminologist's thoughts on the state of his field, professional challenges, and ideological bias within the social sciences.

Everything You Need to Know About Conflicts of Interest

Ever wonder if unconscious biases are affecting the way your doctor treats you? Here are a few ways to ensure that science and medicine get a handle on unconscious bias.

Has Disney Lost Its Direction by "Normalizing" Gay People?

There is more than enough conflict in the world. Maybe it's time that people start boycotting fear and hate mongers, rather than peacemakers.

Body, Soul, Survival

On the history and politics of health care in the United States.

The Future of Diversity Training

By Katerina Bezrukova Ph.D. on March 07, 2017 in Team Spirit
“I don’t like the racism and the name calling” said George W. Bush about the current political environment. What is the future of diversity training in today’s contentious climate?

Why Carl Sagan's 1995 Prediction Seems So Prescient

Did the uncanny astronomer see into our future, or did our own wishful thinking make his decades-old quote go viral?

Elasticity of Belief

By John Staddon, Ph.D. on March 04, 2017 in Adaptive Behavior
Attitudes based on little experience can be changed.

Being Right vs. Feeling Right

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on March 02, 2017 in Ambigamy
Feelings feel more factual than fact, more real than reality, truer than truth. The truth can be staring us in the face, and we’re still more likely to believe our guts.

Empathy Is the Key to Conflict Resolution or Management

Everyone interprets things through their own lenses, which filter information based upon our personal biases, beliefs, assumptions and values.

Discrimination and Psychological Distress

By Shervin Assari MD MPH on February 28, 2017 in Unequal Vulnerability
When it comes to discrimination, men seem to be more vulnerable.

Information Avoidance in the Information Age

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on February 28, 2017 in Consumed
When ignorance is bliss: How much would you pay to avoid potentially threatening information?

If You’ve Seen One, You’ve Seen Them All?

Single experiences sometimes lead to stereotypes. Attention to differences can reduce prejudice.

How Trump Takes Advantage of the Psychology of Blame

By Robert Klitzman M.D. on February 23, 2017 in Am I My Genes?
To make sense of complex problems, we often seek simple story lines. These often involve blaming someone, assigning physical and moral cause. Trump takes advantage of this trait.

Dolphins Who Hang With Mates Display a Positive Spin on Life

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 22, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Dolphins who swim together display positive emotions and seem to be more optimistic than those who don't. This cognitive bias lasts for around two months.

Are Refugees a Threat to Americans?

Are refugees a threat to the safety of Americans? Research suggests we needn't be afraid.

Gender Wrap

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on February 19, 2017 in One Among Many
The study of gender relations is difficult. The study of gender stereotypes is easier. Here are some results.

Declinism: Why You Think America is in Crisis

Is America really on the brink of disaster? Studies show most people feel things are bad and getting worse. Declinism, based on cognitive bias, explains why.

Race as a Social Construction, Part 2

By Gordon Hodson Ph.D. on February 16, 2017 in Without Prejudice
What if Chinese people were categorized as “Black," and Japanese people as “White”?

System Justification: Why People Buy Into Social Inequality

By Gordon Hodson Ph.D. on February 16, 2017 in Without Prejudice
We do not always act in the best interests of our self or our groups.

Judges Should Strive to Provide Equal Justice Under Law

Since judicial bias significantly interferes with judges' abilities to perform the duties expected of them, they should do anything and everything possible to reduce their biases.