Research Shows How We Can Reduce Bias in Ourselves and Our Organizations

Bias affects all of us, but according to a new book on the psychology of bias, we can take action to recognize and reduce its impacts—both on our own mind and in our work.

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Can we overcome bias? 

We all tend to make unconscious judgments about people based on their social identities and the cultural stereotypes that cling to them. But bias can be disastrous for its targets, affecting their health, success, and happiness.

In her new book, The End of Bias, science journalist Jessica Nordell explains the many ways that bias—particularly, unconscious bias—plays a role in our lives. By sharing research findings at a granular level, as well as stories of individuals affected by bias, she shows readers why we discriminate, how harmful bias is, and what we can do to help eliminate it.

The Roots of Bias

Bias exists, in part, because our brains naturally seek shortcuts for understanding our complicated world. We categorize things we encounter in life (including people) and then absorb “cultural knowledge” (including societal beliefs and attitudes toward different groups of people), which leads to stereotyping and biased expectations in our everyday interactions. This happens unconsciously, so that even if we’re not consciously prejudiced, we are still prone to automatic stereotyping—especially when we’re low-energy or stressed.

It takes effort to avoid our knee-jerk responses, says Nordell, which often keeps things from changing. For example,…