Kirwan Institute Releases the Second Annual State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review

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The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, an inter-disciplinary engaged research institute at The Ohio State University, has released its State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2014. The publication builds on the foundation begun last year with Kirwan’s release of its inaugural edition bearing the same name. Both publications were made possible by generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

In February 2013, the Kirwan Institute debuted the first edition of its State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review, a report written by Research Associate Cheryl Staats, which explored the latest findings from cognitive psychology and neurology concerning implicit biases and their implications for decision-making in three domains: education, criminal justice and healthcare. The report was warmly received by myriad audiences, including educators, school administrators, healthcare professionals, employers, legislators, judges, lawyers, funders and more, demonstrating a broad desire for greater understanding about brain science research. The Kirwan Institute’s newest report, released today, explores the latest trends in implicit bias research and applies the scientific findings to two new domains: employment and housing.

Kirwan’s Implicit Bias Review is the nation’s only annual publication reporting the latest findings from brain science about implicit biases, cognitive associations that operate below the level of human consciousness and create the potential for judgments and decision-making to be tainted in ways that are unwitting and inconsistent with one’s strongly held intention to be evenhanded and fair. For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has listed “unconscious bias and perceptions about African Americans” as one of the seven “major obstacles hindering equal opportunities for African Americans in the federal work force.”

“Given that the body of implicit bias research is rapidly growing, the latest edition of the State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review tracks new developments from both the academic realm and the public domain to update readers on emerging ideas and research from this important field,” said Staats.

This year’s State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review serves to inform readers on the issue of unconscious bias and potentially help reduce racial implicit biases that are responsible for the unwanted disparities in many domains and realms of life. Nevertheless, the report also serves as a resource to encourage positive and accurate conversation around unconscious bias, and includes features the reader might find helpful in continuing discussions, such as quick facts and a sample conversation with an “implicit bias skeptic”.

“Last year the Kirwan Institute published its first issue of the State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review to help raise awareness of 30 years of scientific findings showing hidden biases operating largely outside the scope of human consciousness and their influence on how we see and treat others, even when we are determined to be fair and objective,” said Sharon Davies, Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute. “We are very pleased to be able to continue to provide that bridge yet again this year.”

The State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2014 is available for download from the Kirwan Institute’s website: http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/implicit-bias-review/. Last year’s report and a series of Kirwan Institute staff analyses and issue briefs on implicit bias can also be found by visiting www.kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/understanding-implicit-bias/. All report releases, updates and event information can also be obtained by following The Kirwan Institute on Facebook and Twitter.