Are we blind to our biases?

Implicit - imˈplisit/: implied though not plainly expressed, latent, underlying, unacknowledged, unexpressed

I was in my car at a red light intersection, the first in line, when I noticed an African American man crossing the street in front of my car. Instinctively, I clicked the lock button to lock all my doors. And I was dismayed at my automatic reaction. All my life, I’ve believed myself to be unbiased. I’ve always had many friends from diverse backgrounds. I played the piano at a black church when I attended Frostburg. Now, I felt terrible to think that I had some hidden bias.

Then a month after that incident, I was again sitting in my car at a red light intersection, the first in line. I noticed a man crossing the street in front of me. This time it was a Caucasian man. Again, with no thought, I automatically clicked the lock button to secure all my doors.

Both times, on some level, I felt threatened, but not by someone of a particular race. My feelings of vulnerability had to do with gender. As a lone female inside an unlocked car, I reacted to the presence of a male walking nearby.

I’ll have to admit that I felt relief, until recently when I was listening to a pod cast, The Mind is a Difference-Seeking Machine, an interview/conversation with Krista Tippett and social psychologist Mahzarin Banaji. She talked of blind spots regarding our biases and suggested an online test that people could take to check their bias blindness. With some trepidation, I went to the web site and began. It was an interesting test that worked with words and images, designed so participants could not easily tip the results.

My test results: Your data suggest no automatic preference between White people and Black people.

Of this, I am glad but I’m sure that I have some bias in other areas. If the people crossing the street had been women, I probably would not have rushed to lock the car doors. However, I wonder what else might tip my balance.

You can take the test here:


No comments:

Post a Comment

This space for your comments: