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

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.

Will You Be My Valentine (With a Disability)?

A new dating app seems to provide an easy way to meet partners with and without disabilities. Will it be successful despite the potential stigma?

How to Discern Fake News from Real News

By Marcia Reynolds Psy.D. on February 11, 2017 in Wander Woman
How to weigh your internal assumptions with external "facts" to determine what news you should believe.
Gage Skidmore

The Science of Solving Alternative Facts

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on February 10, 2017 in Intentional Insights
Worried about the dominance of "alternative facts" in politics? This article has some tips for solving this problem!

What Sexism Research Says About the Rebuke of Senator Warren

Silencing Warren reflected sexism still pervasive in American politics.

Misandry AND Misogyny

By Anthony Synnott Ph.D. on February 09, 2017 in Rethinking Men
Both misogyny and misandry are back in the news again, not that they really ever left, but now they are highlighted.

Subconscious Fear Exposure Helps Reduce Phobias, Study Finds

By Christopher Bergland on February 09, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
A new study reports that a technique called "backward masking" can help arachnophobes reduce their fear of spiders simply by subconsciously viewing images of spiders.

Welcoming Refugees and Immigrants Is Good for the U.S.

When the U.S. welcomes refugees regardless of religion, race, or ethnicity, we reap important social and economic rewards.

Nudges: Social Engineering or Sensible Policy?

Nudges are a powerful policy tool, but effectiveness and ethics don’t always go hand in hand.

Why We Are Underprepared for Disasters

Why do we repeatedly fail to prepare for natural disasters despite improvements in risk analysis, engineering, and meteorology?

The 3 Pathways to Empathy in Close Relationships

Most of us believe we're pretty good at reading the moods of our partners. New research shows how we can improve our pathways to empathy by separating truth from bias.

What Is American?

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on February 04, 2017 in Minority Report
What is American to you can be quite different from others living here in the U.S. In today's climate of racial and religious prejudices our awareness of our own bias is needed..

Should Supreme Court Justices Believe in Democracy?

Is it wise to confirm Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice, considering his known biases and disregard for democracy?

Beyond 50 Shades Darker: Debunking Popular Myths About BDSM

By Michael Aaron, Ph.D. on February 03, 2017 in Standard Deviations
With the upcoming release of "Fifty Shades Darker," groundbreaking new research challenges stereotypes about BDSM participants portrayed in the "Fifty Shades" trilogy.

On Conservatives, Liberals, and Fake News

Commentary on a new finding that, compared to liberals, conservatives were more receptive to believing false negative information regarding hazards.

Facts and Fictions About Men and Sex

By Madeleine A Fugère Ph.D. on February 02, 2017 in Dating and Mating
Do men and women really differ in their sexual desires? Many of our beliefs about men and sex are surprisingly tenuous.

Who's Responsible for My Emotional Experience?

By Laura Niemi, Ph.D. on February 01, 2017 in Morality in Language
Our cognitive models of events are like little moral dramas with toy agents and patients acting according to stereotyped scripts about typical causes.

Make Peace With Your Mind: A Conversation With Mark Coleman

By Mark Matousek on January 31, 2017 in Ethical Wisdom
The longtime meditation teacher and mindfulness consultant on how to confront the bullies within, and end the way in our own minds.

The Society of Indian Psychologists' Statement on the "Wall"

By E. J. R. David Ph.D. on January 29, 2017 in Unseen and Unheard
The Society of Indian Psychologists view the wall proposal for what it is at its very core, an act of symbolic racism toward particular people, which we cannot support.
Sunil Bhatia

Banning Muslims Is Illegal and Racist

By Sunil Bhatia Ph.D. on January 29, 2017 in Culture On the Move
Consider today how young American Muslims might interpret this executive order banning Muslims from seven nations, one of which is their parents’ homeland?

Self-Stigmatizing About Your Weight Increases Health Risks

By Christopher Bergland on January 26, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Fat shaming is bullying. And it takes a heavy toll. According to a new study, internalizing negative stereotypes caused by fat shaming is linked to a variety of health risks.

Racism in the Heart?

What the confirmation battle for Trump's nominee for Attorney General can teach us about racism and how to fight it.

Why We Resist Creativity When We Need It Most

Are you someone who needs to make a tough call and endorse a creative solution? Find out why these decisions can feel so difficult and what you can do about it.