State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013

by Cheryl Staats

Feb 1, 2013

This Kirwan Institute report reviews the science on the connection between unconscious racial association and human decision-making, examining the impact of implicit racial biases in the education, criminal justice, and health care systems.
  • Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.
  • Implicit biases, explicit biases, and structural forces are often interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
  • Implicit bias has been observed in educational settings related to teacher expectations of student achievement, teacher perceptions of student behavior, students' self-perceptions, and the development of curriculum.
  • In the criminal justice system, small implicit biases at each stage of legal proceedings can accumulate into a substantial effect.
  • Implicit bias has been documented in a variety of facets of the health/healthcare industry: among physicians, in the type and quality of care that patients receive, and in doctor-patient interactions.
  • While implicit biases are deeply entrenched, researchers generally agree that biases are malleable and may be unlearned by constructing new mental associations.