What Is Bias?
A bias is a tendency, inclination, or prejudice toward or against something or someone. Some biases are positive and helpful, such as choosing to eat foods that are considered healthy, or staying away from someone who has knowingly caused harm. But biases are often based on both positive and negative stereotypes, rather than actual knowledge of an individual or circumstance. These cognitive shortcuts can result in prejudgments that lead to rash decisions or discriminatory practices.
The most common examples of unfair bias are based on stereotypes about another person's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, group, and so on. This type of bias increases susceptibility to stereotype threat, a situation wherein people behave in certain ways to avoid confirming a known stereotype about their particular group. Relying on biases but keeping them in check requires a delicate balance between self-protection and compassion or empathy for others.