Currently viewing the tag: "bias"

Negative attitudes about others are often formed at a young age, and they’re thought to remain relatively stable throughout adulthood. However, few studies have examined whether implicit social biases can change. In recent years, however, Professor Manos Tsakiris of the Royal Holloway University of London and Professor Mel Slater of University College London and the University of Barcelona have developed ways to expose participants to bodily illusions that induce ownership over a body different from their own with respect to race, age, or gender. For white people who were made to feel that they had black bodies, their unconscious biases against black people diminished. And adults who felt as if they had children’s bodies processed perceptual information and aspects of themselves as being more childlike. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story where an actual body swap occurs.

Journaling Prompt: What type of person do you have negative thoughts about? How could you begin to see things through their eyes?

Art Prompt: Body swap

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about this research and how implementing it might change the direction of our world.

Photo Credit: Mr. Bob on Flickr

Fat shaming on social media has become prevalent and weight is the most common reason children are bullied in school with 85 percent of surveyed adolescents reportedly seeing overweight classmates teased in gym class, McHugh said.

Evidence confirms that fat shaming is not an effective approach to reducing obesity or improving health, McHugh said. “Rather, stigmatization of obese individuals poses serious risks to their psychological health,” she added. “Research demonstrates that weight stigma leads to psychological stress, which can lead to poor physical and psychological health outcomes for obese people.” –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story in which conflict is driven by shaming based on a physical characterist.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about fat people? What thoughts pop into your mind when you see someone who is fat?

Art Prompt: Fat Shamin

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about fat shaming on social media in today’s culture.

Photo Credit: Facebook Screen Capture

Tuskeegee Airmen medallion

The strict racial segregation the U.S. Army required gave way in the face of the requirements for complex training in technical vocations. Typical of the process was the development of separate African-American flight surgeons to support the operations and training of the Tuskegee Airmen. Before the development of this unit, no U.S. Army flight surgeons had been black. Training of African-American men as aviation medical examiners was conducted through correspondence courses until 1943, when two black physicians were admitted to the U.S. Army School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas. This was one of the earliest racially integrated courses in the U.S. Army. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of someone who overcomes a prejudice or bias.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you overcame someone’s bias against you.

Art Prompt: Overcome

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell the story of how our military forces overcame segregation.

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr

In five experiments, subjects were shown multiple images of people on a computer screen and determined whether the person was holding a gun or a neutral object such as a soda can or cell phone. Subjects did this while holding either a toy gun or a neutral object such as a foam ball.

The researchers varied the situation in each experiment — such as having the people in the images sometimes wear ski masks, changing the race of the person in the image or changing the reaction subjects were to have when they perceived the person in the image to hold a gun. Regardless of the situation the observers found themselves in, the study showed that responding with a gun biased observers to report “gun present” more than did responding with a ball. Thus, by virtue of affording the subject the opportunity to use a gun, he or she was more likely to classify objects in a scene as a gun and, as a result, to engage in threat-induced behavior, such as raising a firearm to shoot.

“Beliefs, expectations and emotions can all influence an observer’s ability to detect and to categorize objects as guns,” Brockmole says. “Now we know that a person’s ability to act in certain ways can bias their recognition of objects as well, and in dramatic ways. It seems that people have a hard time separating their thoughts about what they perceive and their thoughts about how they can or should act.” –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or poem about jumping to a dangerous conclusion.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you have jumped to a wrong conclusion.

Art Prompt: Observer Bias

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about observer bias and how it affects our society.

Photo Credit: @LIQUIDBONEZ on Flickr

Doña Ignacia de barro

…physicians may have an unconscious desire to avoid treating poor patients out of concerns about financial reimbursement. Such physicians might consciously or unconsciously presume poor patients are more likely to sue, as an excuse or way of avoiding the presumed difficulty associated with collecting payment from such patients. In this situation, the doctor’s unconscious mind can trick him or her into behaving in an undesirable way — a process known as unconscious bias. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a story, scene, or poem about someone who is denied medical care because they are poor.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your current medical concerns.

Art Prompt: Unconscious Bias
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about unconscious bias in medicine and how it may affect them.

Photo Credit: arantxamex on Flickr

Nice Hoodie

People who are prejudiced feel a much stronger need to make quick and firm judgments and decisions in order to reduce ambiguity. “Of course, everyone has to make decisions, but some people really hate uncertainty and therefore quickly rely on the most obvious information, often the first information they come across, to reduce it” Roets says. That’s also why they favor authorities and social norms which make it easier to make decisions. Then, once they’ve made up their mind, they stick to it. “If you provide information that contradicts their decision, they just ignore it.”

Roets argues that this way of thinking is linked to people’s need to categorize the world, often unconsciously. “When we meet someone, we immediately see that person as being male or female, young or old, black or white, without really being aware of this categorization,” he says. “Social categories are useful to reduce complexity, but the problem is that we also assign some properties to these categories. This can lead to prejudice and stereotyping.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a character’s inner monologue as they meet someone who is different from them in some significant way.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a prejudice you have and where you think it comes from.

Art Prompt: Prejudice
Non-Fiction/Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the effect of prejudice on society.

Photo Credit: Rick Camacho on Flickr

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Distrust is the central motivating factor behind why religious people dislike atheists, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia psychologists.

“Where there are religious majorities — that is, in most of the world — atheists are among the least trusted people,” says lead author Will Gervais, a doctoral student in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology. “With more than half a billion atheists worldwide, this prejudice has the potential to affect a substantial number of people.”…

“This antipathy is striking, as atheists are not a coherent, visible or powerful social group,” says Gervais, who co-authored the study with UBC Associate Prof. Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff of the University of Oregon. The study is titled, Do You Believe in Atheists? Distrust is Central to Anti-Atheist Prejudice…

The religious behaviors of others may provide believers with important social cues, the researchers say. “Outward displays of belief in God may be viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness, particularly by religious believers who think that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them,” says Norenzayan. “While atheists may see their disbelief as a private matter on a metaphysical issue, believers may consider atheists’ absence of belief as a public threat to cooperation and honesty.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a character sketch about your character’s religious beliefs. Include how he or she feels about people who hold different beliefs.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the biases that you have towards people who hold religious beliefs that are different from your own.

Art Prompt: Religion

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Inform your audience about the basis of religious distrust and give them tools to guard against it in themselves.

Photo Credit: Life in Flintville on Flickr

Interrogation (255/365)


Confessions, when true, are an important tool in convicting criminals. But false confessions frequently play a major role in convicting innocent people. Experiments show that juries and potential witnesses are influenced by confessions even if they know they were coerced. Also in the lab, experienced polygraph examiners, fingerprint experts, and other experts, when informed of a confession, see what they expect to see — that is, evidence of guilt…

To back up these findings with real-life data, the psychologists thoroughly reviewed the trial records of 241 people exonerated by the Innocence Project since 1992. Of these, 59 — or 25 percent — involved false confessions, either by the defendant or an alleged accomplice. One-hundred eighty — or 75 percent — involved eyewitness mistakes. The analysis revealed that multiple errors turned up far more often in false confession cases than in eyewitness cases: 69 percent versus fewer than half. And two thirds of the time, the confession came first, followed by other errors, namely invalid forensic science and government informants.

Kassin believes the findings “greatly underestimate the problem” because of what never shows up in court: evidence of innocence. Told the suspect confessed, “alibi witnesses back out, thinking they’re mistaken,” police stop searching for the real culprit. “We show that confessions bring in other incriminating evidence that is false. What we don’t see is a tendency to suppress exculpatory evidence.”

The study throws doubt on a critical legal concept designed to safeguard the innocent: corroboration. Appeals courts uphold a conviction even if a false confession is discovered, as long as other evidence — say, forensics or other witness testimony — independently shows guilt. “What these findings suggest is that there may well be the appearance of corroboration,” says Kassin, “but it is false evidence that was corrupted by the confession — not independent at all.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene about a coerced confession and its fallout.

Journaling Prompt: What would it take to get you to admit to something you didn’t do?

Art Prompt: Coercion

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about a coerced confession that was recanted and how the case ended up.

Photo Credit: andrewrennie on Flickr

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People always claim that they want the truth, but most people only want a truth that fits their beliefs. Of course, they like to delude themselves that they make up their minds on the facts, but they really just select the facts that back up what they already believe. -L.E. Modesitt Jr., Flash

Writing Prompt: Write an inner monologue for your character illustrating how he or she chooses the facts to pay attention to in making a decision.

Journaling Prompt: How do your biases affect your decisions?

Art Prompt: Delusion of Reality
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the delusion of reality and give them strategies for how they can become more aware of how they create it themselves.

Photo Credit: martinhoward on Flickr