Skip to Main Content

Learn & Unlearn: Anti-racism Resource Guide

Lesson 6: Conscious and Unconscious Bias

Original post on @saic.maffairs posted 9/4/2020.

Foundation: Unconscious/Conscious Bias

What is Conscious and Unconscious Bias?

Bias: Favorable or unfavorable attitudes, or beliefs about a group that informs how we perceive, interact, behave toward the group that are automatically activated. Bias directly and indirectly develops over time through your everyday experiences.

Conscious Bias: Biased attitudes about a group we are aware of; can be (in)visible; can be accessed.
Unconscious Bias: Biased attitude operating outside your awareness and control, are difficult to access or be aware of, & influence your action more than conscious biases. 

Confirmation Bias: Tendency to favor information that aligns with our existing beliefs or attitudes
Associating stereotypes or attitudes towards groups without being consciously aware
Just because we’re not consciously aware of biases, doesn’t mean our actions don’t have real impacts. Unchecked, biases can lead to detrimental forms of racism.

Just because we’re not consciously aware of biases, doesn’t mean we’re off-the-hook. 
Just because we’re not consciously aware, doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about it. 
Just because we’re not consciously aware of biases, doesn’t mean it’s not pervasive.
We still are accountable for our (un)learning, learning, interrogating, and changing these biases.
Biases are inevitable, BUT it doesn’t mean they’re not immovable.


“Implicit biases come from culture. I think of them as the thumbprint of the culture on our minds. Human beings have the ability to learn to associate two things together very quickly - that is innate. What we teach ourselves, what we choose to associate is up to us,” - Dr. Mahzarin R. Banaji1

To Read

Flaxman Library Materials - May take up to 3 days from request to pickup. Instructions are available here.
I-Share Books - May take up to 10 days from request to pickup. Instructions are available here.

To Research

To Listen

To Watch

To Follow


To Reflect

You cannot access your unconscious biases... alone. Complete Project Implicit: an instrument to analyze your own hidden or unconscious biases. Take the assessment:
Bias can be measured here, by the Kirwan Institute called the Bias Cleanse. Watch, discuss, and learn from real stories.
Now that you are aware, what are some ways you will combat these biases?
Who else has similar biases? What are some ways you can interrogate these biases?

To Act

Now that you’ve taken the Project Implicit test, every time you recognize a biased thought/impulse/action, PAUSE and find an article/song/artist/artwork that counteracts. E.g. Every time you see a post portraying Chicago as being dangerous, seek disconfirming media. Look at celebrations, shows, artwork, music that celebrates Chicago.
Practice mindfulness, perspective-taking, changing your perspective


Works Cited

Other Sources