Implications of Unconscious Bias
by Thomas Baker
Outline:
1.Introductions
2.Definitions
3.Implications of Bias
4.Actions
School of Engineering &
Technology
Definition: Bias
bias, v.
1. trans. To give bias to (a bowl); to furnish with a weight or bias
2. transf.
a. To give a bias or one-sided tendency or direction to; to incline to one side;
to influence, affect (often unduly or unfairly).
b. To incline to or towards; to cause to swerve.
c. To influence or incline (one) to do anything.
Oxford English Dictionary
http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/18565
3 Possibilities:
1. Conscious Bias
2. Unconscious Bias
3. Unintended, but perceived Bias
Unconscious Bias (Barefoot, 2013)
• “our unintentional people preferences that result from the
process of socialisation and social categorisation”
• Likely to be activated whenever we encounter people who
are similar to us and those who are different to us.
• For example, age based biases and ethnic based biases can impact on
employment
• Three types of bias:
– Affinity (like me) bias; favours people like us
– Confirmatory bias; search for information that
confirm our existing perceptions
– Social comparison bias; developing sense of
individual and group identity – a need to see
ourselves as better than other groups
(Robertson, 2013)
Laura Ellen , Blind Spot; what you can’t see might be murder)
3 Possibilities:
1. Conscious Bias
2. Unconscious Bias
3. Unintended, but perceived Bias
Implications to Learning and Teaching
1. Can be an obstacle to learning
2. May reduce student performance
(Gladwell, 2005 ; Steele and Aronson; 1995)
3. Can influence Student’s or Tutor’s bias
4 Possibilities of Bias in L&T
Positive Bias
Tutor
Student
Negative Bias
7
4 Possibilities of Bias in L&T
Positive Bias
Tutor
Student
Negative Bias
8
4 Possibilities of Bias in L&T
Positive Bias
Tutor
Student
Negative Bias
9
4 Possibilities of Bias in L&T
Positive Bias
Tutor
Student
Negative Bias
10
4 Possibilities of Bias in L&T
Positive Bias
Tutor
Student
Negative Bias
11
What can you do?
Positive Bias
♦ Cultivate Positive Bias
♦ Maintain Positive Bias
Tutor
Negative Bias
12
What can you do?
Ideas from practice:
• Learn names
• Shake hands
• Respect & Learn customs
13
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil
is that good men do nothing”
Edward Burke (Possibly!).
14
References
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Useful resources
Barefoot, H. BME Attainment Workshop at University of Hertfordshire, 23/01/2013
Gladwell, M Blink, London: Penguin Books (2005)
Oxford English Dictionary, Online: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/18565
accessed 1 May 2013.
Robertson, D. (2013) Unconscious bias: business impact. In Equality Opportunities
Review (232)
Steele, C & Aronson, J “Stereotype threat and the Intellectual test performance of
African Americans” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69, No. 5 (1995) 797811.
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