101 summary of unconscious bias

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101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:03 pm

Nicholas Kristof did a nice, layman friendly, jargon light summary of the effect of unconscious bias and has links to some good studies http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/opinion/sunday/nicholas-kristof-straight-talk-for-white-men.html?referrer=
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by The Wisp on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:17 pm

Here's my question about implicit bias: is it just run of the mill tribalism? In other words, yeah whites tend to be biased against blacks in the US, but are blacks biased against whites or not?
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:29 pm

The Wisp wrote:Here's my question about implicit bias: is it just run of the mill tribalism? In other words, yeah whites tend to be biased against blacks in the US, but are blacks biased against whites or not?

How would that explain gender bias? All tribes have at least two genders


Last edited by reboot on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by kleenestar on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:29 pm

I'm more familiar with the literature on gender, which shows that both men and women are unconsciously biased against women in most situations. I'd expect race to show broadly similar patterns, with the caveat that racial categories tend to differ across cultures more than gender categories tend to.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by Hirundo Bos on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:31 pm

Wisp: As far as I know, most people of most social groups have their share of implicit bias. But bias interact with existing power structures, and have fewer negative consequences for those on the privileged side of things, something I believe is an important part of a given privilege.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:31 pm

kleenestar wrote:I'm more familiar with the literature on gender, which shows that both men and women are unconsciously biased against women in most situations. I'd expect race to show broadly similar patterns, with the caveat that racial categories tend to differ across cultures more than gender categories tend to.

I am no expert in the racial literature, but what I have read indicates you are correct. The bias holds across races.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by The Wisp on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:31 pm

reboot wrote:
The Wisp wrote:Here's my question about implicit bias: is it just run of the mill tribalism? In other words, yeah whites tend to be biased against blacks in the US, but are blacks biased against whites or not?

How would that explain gender bias? All tribes have at least two genders

By tribalism I guess I mean the phenomena of liking people who are like you, in any category.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:37 pm

The Wisp wrote:
reboot wrote:
The Wisp wrote:Here's my question about implicit bias: is it just run of the mill tribalism? In other words, yeah whites tend to be biased against blacks in the US, but are blacks biased against whites or not?

How would that explain gender bias? All tribes have at least two genders

By tribalism I guess I mean the phenomena of liking people who are like you, in any category.

If you click the links in the article you can see the original research. It shows that the bias is present in men and women.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:41 pm

In some cases, "liking people who are like you" turns out to be weaker than the phenomenon where you just accept and internalize the ideas and biases of your surrounding culture.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by The Wisp on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:43 pm

Okay, Nearly and Reboot, thanks for the responses! It definitely seems that women have biases towards men.

EDIT: Nearly, that PDF won't load right for me.

ETA2: According to this FAQ, at least when it comes to one set of implicit bias tests, members of disadvantaged groups tend to show less bias towards the advantaged group, but a significant number still have that bias. A push-pull of ingroup bias and internalized cultural bias. Something like 40% of blacks are biased towards blacks, but 40% are biased towards whites.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:31 pm

None of which explains things like this:

"But researchers at North Carolina State conducted an experiment in which they asked students to rate teachers of an online course (the students never saw the teachers). To some of the students, a male teacher claimed to be female and vice versa.

When students were taking the class from someone they believed to be male, they rated the teacher more highly. The very same teacher, when believed to be female, was rated significantly lower." - from OP editorial. Click link in editorial for NC study

Same teachers, same content. But if the male teacher said he was female he got lower ratings. And if the female teacher said she was male she received night ratings.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by The Wisp on Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:37 pm

reboot wrote:None of which explains things like this:

"But researchers at North Carolina State conducted an experiment in which they asked students to rate teachers of an online course (the students never saw the teachers). To some of the students, a male teacher claimed to be female and vice versa.

When students were taking the class from someone they believed to be male, they rated the teacher more highly. The very same teacher, when believed to be female, was rated significantly lower." - from OP editorial. Click link in editorial for NC study

Same teachers, same content. But if the male teacher said he was female he got lower ratings. And if the female teacher said she was male she received night ratings.

Yeah, I read the op-ed and thus that section, and I accept it. I did some searching online and I think it is clear that when it comes to gender, there is a huge cultural implicit bias to see men as more intelligent and more competent. It doesn't seem like there is that much of an in-group bias based on gender.

It does seem that for domains outside of gender, though, it gets a little more complicated, where there is a push-pull between in-group bias and cultural narrative biases among disadvantaged groups. But still, the cultural bias is clearly there.

I totally think implicit biases are a thing and I personally have tried to counteract them in my impressions of people and so on. I guess I was just questioning if they were mostly in-group biases, or based on culture as well. It seems to be a mix of both, but in gender especially it leans more towards the latter.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by PintsizeBro on Mon Feb 23, 2015 6:27 pm

reboot wrote:None of which explains things like this:

"But researchers at North Carolina State conducted an experiment in which they asked students to rate teachers of an online course (the students never saw the teachers). To some of the students, a male teacher claimed to be female and vice versa.

When students were taking the class from someone they believed to be male, they rated the teacher more highly. The very same teacher, when believed to be female, was rated significantly lower." - from OP editorial. Click link in editorial for NC study

Same teachers, same content. But if the male teacher said he was female he got lower ratings. And if the female teacher said she was male she received night ratings.

I'd be interested in what kind of online course that was. Reason being, was the factor going on a general stereotype of men being more competent, or was the class in a subject where there's an explicit stereotype that men are better at this subject (like math)? I recall reading a study for a class about humor and the stereotype that men are funnier than women. Sure enough, participants asked to rate written jokes rated the same jokes as significantly funnier when they were told the joke was written by a man. Another study, this time involving math tests, found that the gender-based disparity in grading disappeared when the tests were given to another teacher with the students' names redacted and re-graded. In other words, the original teacher was penalizing girls for things other than getting the answer wrong, and was not doing the same to the boys. Not consciously perhaps, but playing out the stereotypes that boys are better at math.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by Jolly on Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:32 pm

That was a really good article and it's worth taking a look at the research cited (yay research!).

Ignoring the ideas that women are biased more against other women than they are against men and that people who are black may be equally biased against people who are white and people who are black; I think a big thing is that a lot of the people who are in positions of power (either hiring, interviewing, giving out raises) tends to be white people and often times men.

Even as a white person if black people are more biased against white people, it probably won't really negatively affect your life because most people in charge over you aren't going to be black.

Biases against people who are black are often way more harmful than biases against people who are white as well.
There's this whole white girl stereotype about liking Starbucks and Uggs and such. Ignoring that fact that pretty much anything girls like get a disproportional amount of hate, an employer isn't going to look at me and think "I dunno if I want to hire her, she might like Starbucks." I’m not going to get searched by the cops because my Uggs make it look like I’m up to no good.

A lot of biases against people who are black tend to be much more extreme and damaging and often paints them in a very negative, criminalizing light.

When the news about the numerous cops killing young black men popped up I know a lot of people who ignored the fact that the shootings may have been influenced by race. I have had people say things like "What you think this cop just woke up one day and decided gee I'm going to shoot some black people? Of course no!" and they deny any racial motivation and why do black people have to make everything about race and such.

However, there has been a pretty well researched phenomena called the shooter effect or shooter bias (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201210/shooter-bias-and-stereotypes). In short, people are more liking to interpret a black man as having a gun than an Asian or white man. I thought it was interesting because as mentioned if biases were purely an in-group out-group thing then white people would have shoot just as many unarmed Asian men as black men.

Anyway I think it's a pretty good idea that people check where their ideas are coming from. In business a lot of times people have "feelings" about people and most of the time those feelings aren't really based on anything objective and could lead to discrimination.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by PintsizeBro on Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:25 pm

Jolly wrote:Even as a white person if black people are more biased against white people, it probably won't really negatively affect your life because most people in charge over you aren't going to be black.  
This right here is the difference between prejudice and oppression. My boss at my first job (the guy who hired me quit a couple of weeks after I started) explicitly told me that he didn't like me because I was white and therefore I was spoiled and expected to be given everything without doing any work. That made the already-crappy job even crappier, but it was an isolated incident both in my life and in the general culture. As soon as I punched out and left for the day, I walked out the door into a society that trusted and valued me more than it did him.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by JP McBride on Tue Feb 24, 2015 8:12 pm

Nicholas Kristof wrote:White Men

*sigh*

A decade after getting diagnosed, four years after applying for disability, and I'm still trying to figure out my relationship with that phrase.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Tue Feb 24, 2015 8:43 pm

JP McBride wrote:
Nicholas Kristof wrote:White Men

*sigh*

A decade after getting diagnosed, four years after applying for disability, and I'm still trying to figure out my relationship with that phrase.

White man with a disability? So getting a bit of a tailwind with gender and race, but also a headwind on "non-neurotipicality" (I made that word up). That is what intersectionality is all about. You can be privileged on some axes but denied privilege on others.

For example, I have privilege on race (white), physical ability, and citizenship (huge privilege to be US citizen). I lack privilege on gender and class background. It is an intersection.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by JP McBride on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:55 pm

Neuroatypical, or alternatively, neurodiverse.

I understand intersectionality, but it's an abstract academic concept and I'm really just trying to figure out how to feel about this whole thing. I feel like I'm pulled in two different directions. I know what boxes to check on the census form, but when someone like Kristof talks to "white men," I'm supposed to know that he's not talking to me.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by kath on Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:39 pm

This doesn't make it easier / explain it, but it's OK and, I'd think, quite common, for it to be difficult to figure out how to feel about it, for how you feel about it to change, to feel ambivalent and pulled in many directions. Or for you to have feelings about it that you may not think are "fair" or politically correct or whatever, and possible to be uncomfortable about that, but for it to not change your feelings anyway.

And sometimes to think "there's some ways he's talking about me, and some ways he isn't, and I'm not even sure if I'm exactly clear on what they are".

(I have a fair number of identities / beliefs - which I've even chosen - that are contradictory from some points of view, and I don't always feel like I've sorted out how all those things fit together. Not the same example, and the axes of privilege you're talking about and the lack of choice one has around them certainly complicate it, but the example is to say that it's even OK to feel conflicted and pulled multiple ways by things that aren't that complicated / that you have more control over)
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by LadyLuck on Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:48 pm

I know what boxes to check on the census form, but when someone like Kristof talks to "white men," I'm supposed to know that he's not talking to me

Well that's the thing, he *is* talking to you. That's the thing about intersectionality - two traits don't "cancel out" each other. For me, personally, being white does not mean I don't have any of the disadvantages of being female. Conversely, being female doesn't absolve me of the extra power (and hence responsibility) of being white. By that logic, I believe at least some of Kristof's rhetoric is meant for me, specifically the bits about racial bias. But all his article really is asking is for us privileged folks to acknowledge that we're capable of being discriminatory even with the best intentions, which to me is just admitting that you're human. Which I'm 100% ok with doing.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:12 am

Thanks, JP I never knew the right term.

Intersectionality is hard. Things do not cancel out, as Kath said, so my class lack of privilege does not erase my racial privilege and vice versa. It is more like having cards in your hand. Some give you more advantage than others.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by Hirundo Bos on Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:41 am

I'm also white, male, and autistic, and not always sure how privileged or not this makes me. But as far as I understand, certain autistic traits, like having to work harder on social, emotional and interpersonal skills, fit somewhat in with standard gender norms for men? In that case, if not for maleness, people around me wold have expected me to spend even more effort on emulating those skills. And reacted even worse to me when I didn't.

Also, with both maleness, whiteness, and other visible markers of privilege, I have seen it pointed out that people without those markers are generally expected to be more aware of their surroundings, especially their social surroundings. So again, being autistic and not a white man would have meant even more effort, greater social risk.

But unrelated, when it comes to implicit bias, a study I once came across suggests that autism can make you somewhat less prone to it. While people with the diagnosis agreed as much with overt stereotypes as people without it, they scored significantly lower on the Implicit Association Test. I don't know if it has been replicated elsewhere, but if true, it does make sense in a way. Doesn't mean we shouldn't stay om guard against the implicit biases we do have, though.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by kleenestar on Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:34 am

The way I think about intersectionality is that bias is contextual and fractal.

Contextual means that in different situations, different identities are going to be more salient, and have different issues associated with them. For example, when I'm walking down the street, my white-passing appearance means I'm not worried about cops hassling me for no reason, but my gender means I am worried about random strange men doing so. On the other hand, my religious identity doesn't matter either way - even though it has a huge impact on, say, my ability to use public goods and services.

Fractal means that bias replicates itself among marginalized groups. So, for example, in a group of women, I'll still receive the benefits of appearing white* but still be marginalized by my religion.

What those two insights do for me is the following. The former lets me ask, "Which of my identities is most important in this context?" The latter lets me ask, "Am I being fair to other women / other Jews / etc. or am I using other axes of power to dominate them?"

* Note that I say appearing white, because even white-passing Jews in America are only conditionally white. But to anyone who doesn't know me, I look white, and that's a huge benefit all by itself.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by JP McBride on Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:22 pm

LadyLuck wrote:
I know what boxes to check on the census form, but when someone like Kristof talks to "white men," I'm supposed to know that he's not talking to me

Well that's the thing, he *is* talking to you. That's the thing about intersectionality - two traits don't "cancel out" each other.

That's how it's supposed to work, but in practice a some of those privileges are reduced to sick jokes. Getting more callbacks on my resume doesn't do a whole lot for me when my interview skills are permanently set to autofail.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by The Wisp on Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:41 pm

JP McBride wrote:
LadyLuck wrote:
I know what boxes to check on the census form, but when someone like Kristof talks to "white men," I'm supposed to know that he's not talking to me

Well that's the thing, he *is* talking to you. That's the thing about intersectionality - two traits don't "cancel out" each other.

That's how it's supposed to work, but in practice a some of those privileges are reduced to sick jokes. Getting more callbacks on my resume doesn't do a whole lot for me when my interview skills are permanently set to autofail.

Well, a black autistic person would have fewer callbacks and still have the poor interview skills. Sure, perhaps you're right that by this one measure you're not better off than a black autistic person in practical terms, in term of the end results, but this reasoning can be applied to other situations where there would be practical advantages you would have over a black autistic person in other domains.

And, by the way, intersectionality, at least in my view, goes the other way too. Just because you're privileged in one area doesn't mean the suffering you experience due to your lack of privilege in another area is invalid, not real, or not worthy or compassion.
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