The main difference between conscious and unconscious bias is that conscious bias refers to biased attitudes that you are aware of, while unconscious bias refers to biased attitudes that operate outside your awareness and control.
Bias is our inclination for or against something or someone, especially in a way considered to be unfair. This involves favourable and unfavourable beliefs or attitudes about a group that determines how we perceive and behave with that group. Bias can develop over time through our everyday experiences. When we are biased towards a certain thing, it is difficult to make a fair judgment.
Key Areas Covered
Conscious Bias, Unconscious Bias
What is Conscious Bias
Conscious bias is the biased attitudes about a certain group we are aware of. In conscious bias, we know we are being biased, and we are doing it intentionally. For example, a person prefers to work with men rather than women, or a person who doesn’t like to associate people with a different culture. These are all prejudices, which can discriminate against certain groups of people. In addition, conscious bias can be easily determined by the ideas and behaviour of a person.
Often, extreme conscious bias characterized by blatant negative behaviour expressed through physical and verbal harassment. But there should not be any place for such mindsets in the modern workplace, as well as in modern society. In fact, there are laws and policies to prevent prejudice and bias based on gender, race, age, physical abilities, sexual orientation, and many other characteristics.
What is Unconscious Bias?
Unconscious bias or implicit bias refers to biased attitudes that operate outside your awareness and control. In other words, you may not be aware that you hold such biased attitudes unconsciously. Here, you may be doing something without realizing you are doing it. In fact, this unconscious bias can be in direct contrast to the beliefs and values you profess to hold. They are difficult to determine and can influence your actions and behaviours more than conscious biases. The dangerous thing is that we don’t realize that our behaviour has been influenced by this bias.
Everyone has a different unconscious bias according to unique social factors that influence their life. Unconscious bias comes into play when we make decisions or judgements. We don’t always make conscious decisions, taking all factors into account. When the brains work quickly, it first accesses information that is familiar. This is information based on personal experiences, which involve natural bias towards ideas and opinions that match the world view we are most familiar and comfortable with. Moreover, in unconscious bias, there is no malicious intent – we are unaware of our bias and its impact.
Difference Between Conscious and Unconscious Bias
Conscious bias refers to biased attitudes that you are aware of, while unconscious bias refers to biased attitudes that operate outside your awareness and control.
In conscious bias, we know we are being biased, and we are doing it intentionally, but in unconscious bias, we may not be aware that we hold biased attitudes towards certain things.
In conscious bias, there can be malicious intent, but in unconscious bias, there is no malicious intent.
Conscious bias can be easily observed, but unconscious bias cannot be observed.
Both conscious and unconscious bias can influence the decisions we make in day to day life. The main difference between conscious and unconscious bias is that conscious bias refers to biased attitudes that you are aware of, while unconscious bias refers to biased attitudes that operate outside your awareness and control.
1. “Two Types of Bias.” NCCC, Available here.