Recognizing Your Own Implicit Bias: Steps to Overcoming Prejudice

What is Implicit Bias?

Being influenced by the environment and social flow of thoughts is something humans are very susceptible to. When one is aware of a bias or prejudice, one can rectify their thought processes and alter their behavior so that one becomes less biased. However, what if one isn’t consciously aware of a bias? That’s implicit bias. These biases exist on an unconscious level and are capable of subtly influencing behavior and judgment. These biases often cause one to judge others based on race, gender, cultural background, mannerisms, and speech.  Sadly, implicit biases can become barriers in relationships and personal equations, causing damage in their wake.

Effects of Implicit Biases

Discrimination is a common by-product of implicit bias. For example, a teacher may more readily negatively reward a student that belongs to a group they hold prejudice against. As an interviewer, you may negatively perceive a job candidate and not hire them. And as a parent you may not want your children to associate with children from that group Moreover, implicit biases can manifest as gender bias or in a multitude of other ways. These biases can affect hiring practices, family, and social structure. 


Regrettably, implicit biases can have real-world outcomes, especially when they become part of a cultural norm, they can lend towards inequality of opportunity and unfair practices in medicine, as previously mentioned, discriminatory hiring practices, violence in the home, and unfriendly learning environments. 

Implicit Bias and Negative Emotions

Implicit biases can lead to various negative emotions. These emotions seemingly pop out of nowhere, for no good reason. When one has an implicit bias towards a certain race or group of people it may affect their behavior as well as their emotions.


A bias that a person or group is inferior can cause a superiority complex, leading to unfair judgment towards that group, verbal attacks, and physical violence. This feeling of superiority can cause conflict or a feeling of resentment and anger, which may end in fighting in the classroom, workplace, or other settings. 


Bias towards classmates from a different economic class can cause one to feel anger or hatred seemingly without reason. For example, no matter what is done or said by an individual one holds a bias towards, one may perceive it as a personal attack and react in anger. The end result may even be violence. 

How to reduce Implicit Biases?

While it may not be an easy process, with perseverance it’s not impossible to reduce implicit biases. Opening yourself to allowing change is crucial.


Empathy: Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, imagine what it would be like for them to be on the receiving end of a bias, and how it would feel.


Awareness: Try to be more actively aware of your thoughts and actions.


Reasoning: Try to pull apart your bias with logic. Try to think about whether there is no sense behind it or if is it just a learned idea that you have incorporated into your daily life.


Environment: Social conditioning is a primary source of internalized biases. Be aware of sources around you who may be contributing to the formation of the bias.


If one can gain awareness of an implicit bias they might attempt to, through false reasoning, justify them. A common line of thinking is ‘Does this bias put anyone at any sort of direct disadvantage or negatively affect them?’ It is commonly assumed that if an implicit bias doesn’t have a direct negative impact on the affected group, then it‘s okay to have such a bias. However, behavior that stems from this bias may still have a negative effect. It is a dangerous move to ignore or underplay these biases as they may still influence your behaviors and actions. 


However inconsequential it may seem, it’s in one’s best interest to be aware of implicit biases and reduce them as much as possible. Self-introspection is of key importance as one has to be open to the fact that people have to keep changing for the better. It is important to pay attention to these biases and consciously take steps to avoid them and rectify them to avoid undesirable behavior or speech toward others. 

About Author – 


Nicole Solomon – 

Nicole has completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology from the University of Mumbai and has also completed her Intensive Training in REBT course. She is currently an intern at the In Vivo Centre for REBT.