To some degree, we all have biases, some more extreme than others, whether we are aware of them or not. Unconscious biases perhaps can be argued to be more dangerous to sort of speak. Have you ever wondered how biased are you when it comes to, say, things like race, sexuality, age, or even the nexus between gender and science? What did you about your biases, if anything at all?
There are many tests out there than can test biases, indeed some more questionable than others. One of these tests (or rather a collection of tests) is Project Implicit, a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control which investigates such thoughts and feelings founded by 3 scientists from University of Washington, University of Virginia, and Harvard University. The organization states that it’s is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet. The method of finding out one’s own biases, or automatic preferences as they call it, consists of completing an Implicit Association Test (IAT) in which you’re asked to sort pictures and words into groups as fast as you can (in addition to the IAT, there are some questions about your beliefs, attitudes, and opinions, and some standard demographic questions).
It’s good practice to update oneself with knowledge, skills, and self-awareness. One concern when it comes to teaching people about unconscious bias, or talking about diversity efforts more broadly, is that the majority can become defensive because as human beings we tend to think that having biases means we are bad people. But we don’t have unconscious biases because we’re bad people – we have them because we are people. Many companies provide training on discovering biases (and training on addressing defensiveness when it comes to discovering biases) as well as best approaches to addressing and growing from them.
I invite you to take a moment and test yourself on your biases to become more self-aware. I, for example, took the test on Weight (‘Fat – Thin’ IAT) amongst others and I discovered that I have a slight automatic preference towards “fatter” persons as compared to “thinner” ones. I wasn’t exactly sure about what exactly that meant at the moment but it was surely a surprise. What it all means is all but a given, and a discovery journey into one self’s consciousness.
Take your tests here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html