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Implicit Bias

September 19, 2018

Researchers win an award for original work on implicit bias.



Unsettling research on prejudice. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

20 years ago, researchers created a video game to match faces with words. They found that white players can easily pair white faces with good words and black faces with bad words, but slow way down when trying to pair white faces with bad words and black faces with good ones. Researcher Mahzarin Banaji says that even she and her colleagues Anthony Greenwald and Brian Nosek had this unsettling tendency.


It put us in a 2 x 2 box and didn’t let us escape. It said “Mahzarin, sit here and confront this.”


They called the effect “implicit bias” and they found it’s not as “black and white” as it first appeared. Implicit bias and can be found in everyone, and today, many organizations are working to address it. The scientists recently received the Golden Goose Award, for unusual research that led to groundbreaking results. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon