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Implicit Bias: Smithsonian Exhibition: Home

This guide features information about implicit bias and the Smithsonian project The Bias Inside Us.

Implicit Bias: Definition

Implicit bias, also known as implicit prejudice or implicit attitude, is a negative attitude, of which one is not consciously aware, against a specific social group.

Adapted from the APA Dictionary of Psychology

The Bias Inside Us Online Exhibition

Can't make it to the library? Want to see more? View the online exhibition here.

Moving Beyond Implicit Bias

A few scholarly articles

Here are a few articles from JSTOR, one of our databases. Search Academic Search Complete, APA PsychArticles, SocIndex, and other databases for additional articles.

The Bias Inside Us

Jefferson College Library is the host of The Bias Inside Us poster exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution. The posters for this exhibition are on view in the Library at Jefferson College's Hillsboro campus. Additional related resources are linked in this guide and available at the Jefferson College Library.

The Bias Inside Us: Poster Exhibition

Graphic image of the word invisible rearranged. Introduction to the exhibit about the science of bias.

Smithsonian: The Bias Inside Us

Bias lives inside all of us. It feeds our natural need to belong and feel safe. But when bias is left unchecked it can grow into beliefs and behaviors that can become harmful. These posters snapshot the science of bias. The research helps us understand how bias comes from our brains, minds, and cultures, and how we can handle it. Keep thinking and learning. Bias does not dictate our destiny.

Graphic image of two people looking at each other with thought bubbles overhead that have big question marks inside.

Do you know me? Really me?

We make assumptions before we really get to know someone. These assumptions can cause harm. This is bias. Scientists define bias as relying on assumptions, rather than evidence, about the people around us. Once we see bias, we can try to interrupt it.

Together. And different. Graphic image of a person's head with images of different people inside it.

Together. And different.

We are all human. We all have dignity, kindness, goodness inside us. We also have differences. The question: What do we do with the differences? Once option would be to make quick assumptions about them; to use difference to divide us. But there's another option: to learn about the real people and stories behind the difference. Check our bias and maybe overcome our first impressions.

Do you know your brain? Image of person running on a wheel with arrows and clouds depicted.

Do you know your brain?

Your brain is quick. Really quick. Your brain can make a decision before you even catch up to it! But following that first reaction keeps us stuck in our old habits and patterns. Operating on automatic can limit us. If we don't check our automatic judgments, we may end up missing out on a new neighborhood, a new food, a new friend.

Graphic image of a person's head and brain with a funnel positioned over it and various shapes spilling into it.

But do you really know your brain?

We may feel like we are aware. But is it an illusion of awareness? Decades of research have revealed an uncomfortable truth: much of what goes on inside our heads is hidden from us. So much in our mind is unconscious or implicit. This means that we are not always aware of our own mind and the judgments we make.

Graphic image of a person in a wheelchair sitting at the top of some stairs.

Do you know who feels welcome?

Our environments are often designed only for some types of people. So take a look around...People design our environments. People design the way we get to work and to school, the products and tools we use every day. When we carefully study these environments, we can see how people's biases are built into the environment around us.

Ladders and different colored shapes.

Bias Produces Privilege.

Scientists define privilege as a special advantage given to someone because of the group they belong to. With biases embedded in our environments, some groups feel more welcome. Some have a head start. Can you see it? Feel it, maybe?

Do you know what's next?

Awareness. And with awareness, we change. Without awareness, research shows that we will stay stuck in our habits and the automatic firing of our brain. Change can be uncomfortable, unknown, unexpected. But the growth that comes with change is worth it.

A group of humans holding heart shaped ballons.

Bias is human.

But there is more to being human than being biased. There is also humanity--that dignity and goodness we all share. As a human, you can: know you bias; recognize bias in the culture, grow your mind; and influence your world.

Hands holding up various ASL signs and common gestures like I love you and thumbs up.

What can we do about bias? A lot...