Listen Up: Understanding Bias

Explicit vs. Implicit Bias

Explicit bias is the traditional conceptualization of bias. With explicit bias, individuals are aware of their prejudices and attitudes toward certain groups. Overt racism and racist comments are examples of explicit biases.

Implicit bias is a subconscious positive or negative preference for a group. Implicit bias develops as a result of a person’s experience and environments and influences choices and actions without conscious thinking or decision-making. The individual is often unaware that biases are driving their decision-making. Implicit bias can be just as problematic as explicit bias, because both may produce discriminatory behavior.

How is bias expressed?

Common ways that bias is expressed include:

  • Socially excluding or avoiding
  • Stereotyping or assuming things about others
  • Making fun of certain groups
  • Using slurs or epithets (even if “joking”)
  • Intentionally or unintentionally using hurtful or offensive language or images
  • Hateful graffiti on walls, whiteboards, or other areas where visible to others
  • Hateful posts on social media and comments on online articles