How to Test Yourself for Bias

Test Yourself: A Survey Tool for Gauging Bias

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I get it! Every one of you- us- is liberal, non-discriminatory, fair-minded and least of all, not color-blind, right? Obviously, the politically correct answer is YES. Instead, we are color-conscious, in our perspectives on diversity…. or that’s what we’d like to believe.

However, as much as we tell ourselves and others that we don’t harbor any personal prejudices or biases against any race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and other forms of diversity, it is in our nature to possess individual biases.

When we harbor unconscious, automatic, or implicit biases, they may lead to actions and decisions that reflect our  beliefs, fears and values without mindful consideration of the impact they have on the lives of others. Cultural awareness promotes cultural competence which promotes a healthy respect for diversity.

Actions and determinations based upon implicit bias are harmful, short-sighted, disrespectful, and much too often results in death, as we have seen all across this nation.



Access to knowledge and information is literally at our fingertips, yet it seems as though the people in positions of authority  aren’t accessing this information in order to save lives. Diversity IS a reality in society, and it BEHOOVES us, particularly law enforcement officers-the police men and women who patrol the streets of this country on a daily basis to understand and respect culture and diversity. If for no other reason, it is in the job description to save lives at all costs, not take a life. Moreover, the life saved by cultural competence could be mine, yours, your children or family member.

License to carry weapons, in my opinion, should also require metrics in place to assess and ‘score’ cultural, physical and mental competence, prior to issuance, but that’s another conversation.
In the classroom at schools, educator biases surely have either perpetuated or exacerbated discipline disparities that negatively impact the education and futures of children of color[and their families] every year.

“If you don’t know, you’d better ask somebody!”

The Implicit Association Test uses a person’s reaction times to measure how closely two concepts are linked in a person’s mind. Interested in finding out how you would score on one?

How can you find a bias you don’t consciously know you have? And can such a bias really affect your behavior?

The Implicit Association Test, developed more than a decade ago by University of Washington social psychologist Anthony Greenwald, uses a person’s reaction times to measure how closely two concepts are linked in the person’s mind. A participant quickly matches pairs of pictures or words—for example, the words “scientist” and “nurse” with male and female names, or “high-achieving” with black and white faces. Over thousands of trials, teams of researchers have found people take longer to match items that run counter to their own mental bias.

A recent meta-analysis of more than 100 studies found the Implicit Association Test can predict interracial discriminatory behavior better than personal reports of conscious racist beliefs.

Interested in finding out how you would score on an Implicit Association Test?

Try this short online test adapted for Education Week readers by Jordan Axt, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Virginia’s Implicit Social Cognition Laboratory. If you agree to participate, your confidential answers will also serve as data for Project Implicit, an ongoing, international research project aimed at gauging levels of racial bias.


Try it here: adapted for Education Week readers.  Take the Quiz


3 thoughts on “How to Test Yourself for Bias

  1. Bias training should be part of all human service, education, and healthcare, and law enforcement…….any career that serves a vunerable population. Kids should learn it too. Great post.


    1. Absolutely true, but for even greater impact, all career pathways should require diversity training and explicit bias challenged prior to interacting with others in any official capacity. That elusive dialogue that is sidestepped in this country MUST be addressed or we will continue to fail citizens, children in schools, families and communities.
      I thoroughly appreciate your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We would like to believe that when a person has a conscious commitment to change, the very act of discovering one’s hidden biases can propel one to act to correct for it. It may not be possible to avoid the automatic stereotype or prejudice, but it is certainly possible to consciously rectify it.


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