Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias? - Forums at Psych Central



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Old 04-10-2019, 03:30 AM #1
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Default Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

I was thinking about this the other day. I think maybe the answer is yes? An example for me would be: I am not a sexist person but I still find myself assuming Doctors must be male. If I speak in general about an unknown doctor or hear a friend talk about their condition and doctor I may say "what does he think?" Or if I call an office to say I was referred there I may say "I was referred to him because my primary told me to go". The same thing happens sometimes with other professions for me.

The implicit bias doesn't have to be about gender. It can be race or other assumptions about mental illness or anything. I do not know how to fix it. I try and get clarification about the gender thing if I am writing but I have to work at it, it doesn't come naturally. What do you all think? Is it possible to engage in the world in any meaningful sense and not have implicit bias's? Especially when it comes to contentious topics-can they be discussed without someone showing implicit bias? How do you work on not having it?
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Old 04-10-2019, 03:33 AM #2
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Default Re: Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

I agree with you that everyone has some sort of implicit bias.

For example, on chat here if the avatar and name are neutral, I assume the person is male (even though most people on here are female). I also tend to assume everyone is from the US and has English as a native languages.

As far as getting rid of implicit bias, I don't know what can be done.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:55 PM #3
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Default Re: Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

I agree that even people who seem or want to be completely unbiased still have some on occasion. That doesn't mean they believe the bias, but it's just "built in", in a sense. I like to use the terms "nature and nurture" a lot. That applies to bias, too. We have to unlearn and practice losing some biases we've been taught and seem natural inherently, some part of our DNA.

I usually assume most members of forums like this are females. I do so mostly because I've been on such forums for years and most members are female. My built-in assumption is also that women tend to gather more for support and giving support more than men. There likely is truth to that, but it's really not fair to just assume that. Men give lots of support and ask for it, too.

I've come a long way over the years in terms of biases, and various views on things. Being around a variety of people from a variety of places certainly helps. Education helps, too.
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Old 04-10-2019, 03:23 PM #4
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Default Re: Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

I think this is a great idea you've raised. I think it may be a product of the society and world we live in. I think the way to move on from that is to have a loving awareness around the things that come up in your mind. Loving awareness is really just noticing your thoughts and behaviors without judging yourself. Just notice. And if you do judge, just notice that too. It's a bit Buddhist. I find it helps me. Another thing that has helped me not be as biased (and I am still biased even if I don't want to be, and I think you're right, most of us are, unless we are actively working to change it) is to read books on social issues and be around minorities more. I joined a Unitarian church and their way of thinking was so foreign to me. It took a while to understand and not be weirded out by them. Maybe minorities isn't the right word. Maybe just listen period. Listen to people who weird you out. Who confuse you. Who don't seem to make sense. You don't have to agree. I've found that after a while, of listening, and being open, I see things in a different light.
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Old 04-10-2019, 03:53 PM #5
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Default Re: Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

Thinking more...can a bias be more of a preference? Does it have to be a bad thing? I prefer to see female doctors and therapists. Does that mean I'm biased toward them? I don't see it as bad.
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Old 04-10-2019, 04:07 PM #6
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Default Re: Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

One of the reasons we struggle with this is due to the way the brain works to protect us or just to avoid pondering everything endlessly just to get through a day—the brain helps us by making generalizations. I think its the limbic part of the brain that is the most basic. We are wired to make some assumptions like “fire”—you can get burned, “Coffee” —-will make me perk up. So if we originally learned that doctors are male, etc, It might take a while to unlearn that.
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Old 04-10-2019, 11:35 PM #7
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Default Re: Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

Hi Sarahsweets,

A professor of mine recently said that everyone has bias and there is no way to avoid it. Not sure if this helps.
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Old 04-11-2019, 07:57 AM #8
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Default Re: Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

I don't struggle with it.....just the way things are...but I can sure have fun with it.

Lol....men typically think of women as unknowing & a little helpless (ok....I am 66 so my growing up years had totally different but transitioning mentality compared to today). This happened in the new little town I moved to alone on a little farm I bought when I was 54. No one here knew me nor my past nor what my career had been. It was actually fun to see guys kinda cringe when they talked down to me or tried to BS me about things. Then I started replying technically how wrong they were. Obviously my computer engineering career came up & watching them "eat crow" had it's entertaining moments.....we always parted as friends & they learner that women do know more than they ever imagined & I doubt they ever did it again (it is a learning & experience thing to change bias)

Along the line of gender.....all the wild animals I can't identify gender of get the he label because IT is not an "IT". Mommy coon became "she" AFTER she brought her 5 babies to dinner.

In the past.....most alive beings whose gender was not known were referred to as "he" until you got to actually meet & know their actual gender. That is because at least in English there is no personal pronouns to specify "unknown yet" & I just hate IT because it is totally impersonal & I feel depersonalizes live beings. I would rather get it wrong & correct than I would to depersonalize....I am ok with it happening to me. I don't see it as a bias but as a tradition that keeps going because really there is no better option.

Another thought on this.....I know that experiences we have definitely create bias. Like my mothers choice to refuse going into a nursing home when that is where she needed to be caused us BOTH to go through a trauma dealing with the evil home care person. After that I have sworn I would NEVER put my daughter through what my mom put me through with her closed minded thinking.....yep....that created my biased thinking in favor of nursing homes
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Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?



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Old 04-20-2019, 08:04 AM #9
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Default Re: Do you believe most/all people engage in implicit bias?

We assume a teacher must be female, we assume a nurse must be a woman, we assume a mechanic to be male. These are all common stereotypes. Some of it comes from experience some comes from what we were taught (heck my primary school primer taught me to read with such D.ick and Jane biases). Regardless, this comes from imprinting. Change starts with us adults though and how we choose to imprint such things on our children. I made a point when my children were young to refer to such things for instance as genderless. To my male child, "One day when you grow up to be a nurse," to my daughter, "one day when you are a firefighter," sorts of statements. I would hope as roles are changing that youth are growing up less and less imprinted with stereotypes whether based on gender, ethnicity, or whatever we adults were led to believe. This comes though straight from parents' mouths and own actions.
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