Article contributed by Cliff Despres, Institute for Health Promotion Research
Many people think they harbor no bias toward other people. Or they believe they know their biases and don’t act on them.
But everyone has implicit bias, or stereotypes that affect our understanding and decisions about others beyond our conscious control. These biases can affect our interactions with other people in our neighborhoods, workplaces and schools.
The good news is implicit bias can be “wired” toward more compassion for others.
Discover your biases with the “Find Out If You Have Implicit Bias and What to Do Next” Action Pack from the Salud America! program at UT Health San Antonio.
The Action Pack will guide you to take a test to identify potential implicit bias, help you reflect on your test results and learn from others who have overcome bias.
“Identifying and addressing one’s implicit biases toward more compassion and understanding for the impoverished and people of color is a step to build support for more equitable distribution of resources and access to health and wealth opportunity,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, Action Pack creator and director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.
Implicit bias is one of the mechanisms people use to discriminate against people of color and/or justify poverty, according to a recent Salud America! research review.
The review, for example, found that many doctors had implicit bias against Black and Latino patients, and favored white patients. This contributes to health disparities in diseases.
Guided by the new Action Pack, you can:
- Take an “Implicit Association Test (IAT)” to Identify Implicit Bias. Harvard University created the IAT in 1998. It aims to identify implicit bias by measuring the strength of the association between concepts (i.e., race or ethnicity) and attributes (i.e., good, bad).
- Evaluate Your IAT Results on Implicit Bias. To help you reflect on your IAT results, read a fact sheet from the Kirwan Institute at The Ohio State University. Then learn from heroes who have overcome implicit bias to help others.
- Encourage a Friend or Loved One to Take the IAT. Spread the word about the need to identify and also address implicit bias.
Finally, the Action Pack notes the importance of moving beyond one’s individual bias and focusing on systemic change for equitable policies and practices.
“To achieve a cohesive culture focused on health equity ─ where everyone works individually and as a group to ensure each person has a fair and just opportunity for health and wealth ─ we must change systems and policies as we help people overcome the mechanisms by which they excuse discrimination and justify poverty,” Dr. Ramirez said. “For example, cities can declare racism as a public health crisis and commit to specific actions for change.”