Evidence of widespread unconscious bias

According to a recent scientific study our society program our children with implicit stereotypes - thoughts and values that people may be unwilling to express or which they may not even know they have. The researchers further suggest that this is the cause for the world wide gender inequity in science and mathematics performance. After a study involving more than half a million participants from 34 countries they showed that 70 percent of participants harbor implicit stereotypes that result in boys outperforming girls in science and maths in those countries that stereotyped most strongly.

According to researcher Brian Nosek, "Culture is a powerful force for shaping the beliefs and behavior of its members, even if one's explicit beliefs change, the cultural residue may persist in memory and continue to influence behavior."

But culture does not seem to be the only culprit causing implicit stereotypes, Disney is in on the act as well!

Researchers from the University of Michigan have found that Disney elevates heterosexuality to powerful, magical heights where heterosexual love can break a spell, save Christmas, change laws and even stop wars. "Characters in love are surrounded by music, flowers, candles, magic, fire, balloons, fancy dresses, dim lights, dancing and elaborate dinners," the researchers observed. "Fireflies, butterflies, sunsets, wind and the beauty and power of nature often provide the setting for—and a link to the naturalness of—hetero-romantic love.", this despite the assumption that the media to which kids are exposed are free from sexual content.

Similar studies have shown that the same 'social programming' result in widespread unconscious racial bias. Following a controversial finding that 70% of people who completed the Implicit Association Test have an unconscious preference for white people compared to blacks, a new study was designed to test the validity of the findings. Professor Anthony Greenwald of the University of Washington who leads the research says: "In socially sensitive areas, especially black-white interracial behavior, the test had significantly greater predictive value than self-reports." In self reported racial bias questionnaires only 20% of people indicate that they have such a bias.

The studies about implicit stereotypes is part of Project Implicit, a publicly accessible research and education Web site at which visitors can complete the Implicit Association Test to measure their own implicit associations. The test is available for a variety of topics involving gender, race, religion and politics.

Article sources::
Citizens In 34 Countries Show Implicit Bias With Science
Disney Elevates Heterosexuality To Powerful, Magical Heights
Test that Found Widespread Unconscious Racial Bias Validated

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