Unconscious bias is defined as social stereotypes about specific groups of people. It makes individuals aware of their consciousness and how they differ from others. Despite documentation of prejudice based on race, it can exist towards any social group. That is specific when individuals find themselves in a cultural setting that differs from theirs. Perception errors associated with unconscious bias lead people to believe that others agree with their actions or decisions, even when they do not. People tend to associate their opinions with the views and opinions of others but mistakenly believe that not all individuals see things the same way. When it comes to ethnicity or racial bias, specific actions, beliefs, or attitudes trigger conscious prejudice, which results in value incompatibility between different races or ethnic groups. The impact of an individual’s culture and identity negatively affects their freedom. In particular, negative stereotypes cause African Americans to feel unwelcome outside their communities.
Regularly, people encounter scenarios where they think they know what is going on. However, they later find themselves in the exact opposite of the truth. When it comes to how people view each other, there is always a disconnect between what is and what should be (Henkel). The 19-year-old Adichie comes to terms with this reality in the university when she realizes that how her roommate thought of her was the exact opposite of who she was. In one example Adichie gives from the TED talk, she says her roommate “felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity” (“The Danger of Single Story”). The mistaken perception of people’s cultural beliefs makes it hard to believe that all people are equal. That contributes to Adichie’s words when she says, “there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her. No possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals” (“The Danger of Single Story”). Therefore, unconscious bias has coined a specific way people view things.
Based on how people are conditioned to perceive reality, stereotype threat manifests when individuals find themselves in conflicting cultural backgrounds. The threat associated with stereotype risks confirms the adverse effects experienced by a person’s cultural group, gender, ethnicity, and race. Claude Steele contributes to the understanding by showing that when one tries to perform in a platform where they are the minority, they are subjected to external pressure (“Stereotype Threat”). Once one knows what the pressure is and understands how to deal with it, it becomes the source of their underperformance (“Stereotype Threat”). The impact mostly affects women who are members of minority groups. Paul quotes Mahzarin Banaji to show the distinction between what one believes and what it is like when it comes to stereotypes. Mahzarin Banaji did not fit anyone’s idea of a racist, yet when she took her unconscious bias test, she “showed very strong prejudice, it was truly a discerning experience, and illuminating” (Paul). Therefore, unconscious bias is automatic, implicit stereotyping that everyone does all the time without notice.
In humans, unconscious bias comes into focus when a cognitive approach is used to illuminate one’s stereotype nature. Parenting plays a significant role in how biased behavior emerges from internal conflicts (Paul). In quoting Banaji, Paul further shows that “our ability to categorize and evaluate is an important part of human intelligence, and without it, we couldn’t survive.” However, the reality is that when stereotypes are considered, people negatively perceive the age, gender, and skin color of the people before them. Based on the automatic nature of unconscious bias, whites develop responses that African Americans are associated with weaknesses, stupidity, hostility, and slowness (Young 38). Since reality and what people believe are two different things, the developed responses present qualities that do not exist in the environment. Psychological perception of unconscious bias links stereotypes to in- or out-group dynamics.
Similar to other species, humans need to feel they belong to assemblies. With the breaking down of clans, villages, and other traditional groupings, race and class have replaced how people attach their identities (Young 41). People need to feel good within the clusters they have developed for themselves. One way to achieve this is to denigrate everyone that does not fit in the assembly. Unconscious bias makes whites perceive those within the collection as members, and African Americans as undifferentiated, stereotyped individuals (Young 43). It narrows down to the understanding that while there are changes in how people categorize themselves, in and of itself, unconscious bias is bred within the bone.
Perception errors are the building blocks that make people agree with others’ opinions and views. Negative stereotypes impact minority groups, blacks in particular, making them feel they are different from whites. It has been shown that unconscious bias comes automatically in every person and that each one does it all the time unknowingly. As the whites respond to their presence, the qualities given to African Americans are non-existent in their environment. However, since people belong to groups, and the unconscious bias dynamics are innate, it becomes easy to consider African Americans as undifferentiated, stereotyped individuals.
Henkel, Eric. “How Unconscious Bias Affects Our Perceptions | Nonprofit Risk Management
Center”. Nonprofit Risk Management Center, Web.
Paul, A M. “Where bias begins: The truth about Stereotypes.” Psychology Today. 31.3 (1998): 52.
“Stereotype Threat: A Conversation with Claude Steele.” YouTube, uploaded by Not In Our School, Web.
“The Danger of Single Story.” YouTube, uploaded by TED Talks, 2007, Web.
Young, Alford A. Are Black Men Doomed? Polity Press, 2018.