Let’s learn about bias

We all prefer one thing, group or person over another — even if we don’t think we do

a photo of an african-american girl holding a sign that says "no racism"

Racism is a form of bias — a belief that one group is better or superior.

Motortion/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Many people would like to believe that they treat all people equally. But often that simply isn’t true. People can be biased — preferring one group of individuals over another. Many times, that bias is implicit — meaning the people who are biased don’t know they are.

Sometimes a bias can be innocent. Maybe you prefer the color blue over the color red. That’s okay. Even bedbugs have favorite colors.

When bias is in favor of one group of people over another, though, it can lead to great harm. Some biases, such as racism and sexism, can even impact someone’s physical health and increase signs of depression. Many of these biases arise out of stereotypes — simplified beliefs that may not be true. But biases can be changed, with learning and understanding and listening.

Want to know more? We’ve got some stories to get you started:

Think you’re not biased? Think again: Everyone has unconscious biases about certain social groups — but there are ways to limit them (6/22/2017) Readability: 7.8

Racism hurts: Science probes racism and what people can do to fight it (12/6/2016) Readability: 6.9

Game may help rid people of biases they didn’t know they had: A teen designed a game to help people see different points of view (5/15/2019) Readability: 6.8

Explore more

Scientists Say: Stereotype

Explainer: Five things you can do about racism 

Fact checking: How to think like a journalist

Calling scientists of all colors

Heartbeat can affect racial perception of threat

Racial discrimination may aggravate asthma, study finds

Word Find 

Think you’re not biased? Everyone has biases. You can find out about some of yours by taking an implicit bias test from Harvard University.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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