What Is Implicit Bias Testing and Why Is it Important?


Many students arrive to college campuses to live on their own for the first time. They bring with them their wealth of life experience, but they also bring with them their biases. Implicit bias testing can help students become aware of their own biases and therefore it is especially important for your campus.

A bias test is designed to help us understand where our biases may lie. Whether we like it or not, implicit biases affect us all. Whether its stereotypes about race, gender, religion, etc., as humans we hold certain beliefs about people who are different than us.

Our biases, can stem from media, upbringing, or societal factors, and are unavoidable. And, while these biases are not indicative of a person’s morality, they can still be harmful to those around us.

What is Unconscious Bias Testing?

An Unconscious Bias Test measures unconscious, or automatic, biases. These biases are the foundation of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. One of the more recent tests was distributed by Project Implicit, a collaboration of researchers from top universities. The test, dubbed the Implicit Association Test (IAT), aims to help people uncover their biases.

Bias tests aim to measure the strength of association between groups and evaluations or stereotypes. The outcomes of these bias tests can provide a clearer picture of how people perceive those in their outer group. Helping people become aware of their biases is the first step to addressing them. And these bias tests do a great job of identifying biases.

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Why is Unconscious Bias Testing Important?

These tests are important simply because people need a way to help recognize the biases they don’t know they have. People may never realize they hold biases until they are pointed out. And when you make people aware, they can take steps to help alleviate their biases.

Additionally, a bias test can help foster diversity and inclusion on your campus. For example, students may decide to reach out to different organizations they might have otherwise overlooked. And students may choose to work with a more diverse group in school projects.

One of the main benefits of bias testing is that it challenges people to see things from a different perspective. You see, these tests challenge people to think about why they think a certain way and what they can do to change it. And the individual can then “put themselves in someone else’s shoes” and see how they are affected by these biases.

What is Implicit Bias Training?

An implicit or unconscious bias test is an excellent first step. But then, what do you do next? You know that people have biases and now they are aware of them, but how can you help them change their perceptions and behaviors?
As part of their diversity and inclusion programs, many colleges and universities use unconscious bias training. Students will gain perspective after taking implicit bias training which will help overcome their unconscious biases.

Training and learning about implicit bias is never a one and done thing, which is why it’s important to reach students in a number of different ways. For example, you can use an online diversity training course to give students an introduction to bias testing, diversity topics and set the tone for the kinds of behaviors your university expects.

Then, you can drill down and host different workshops and in-person events focused on more specific topics. This is an excellent area to get student organizations involved because it’s very powerful to have the messages coming from their peers, rather than an authority figure.

There are a number of ways to reach your students and continue their education about diversity issues beyond an implicit bias test. By implementing bias tests and training on your campus, you can help foster a healthy and diverse campus environment where everyone feels included.

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