Unconscious (or implicit) bias affects everyone. By increasing our awareness of unconscious bias, we can start to mitigate against it. 

What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias is a term that describes the associations we hold, outside our conscious awareness and control. These can have a significant influence on our attitudes and behaviours, especially towards other people.

Unconscious bias is triggered by our brain automatically making quick judgments and assessments, influenced by our background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context. It is not just about gender, ethnicity or other visible diversity characteristics - height, body weight, and many other things can also trigger unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias can influence key decisions in the workplace and can contribute to inequality, for example in recruitment, performance appraisals, or promotion.

Further information

There is a growing body of research on unconscious bias as well a number of guides, videos, and other resources online. Below are a few examples which might help you better understand unconscious bias.

The Equality Challenge Unit has published Unconscious bias in higher education: a literature review (pdf)

The Royal Society has produced a briefing on unconscious bias

Project Implicit is a collaboration of American scientists who have created a range of online Implicit Association Tests

Dr Pete Jones, who delivered Imperial's 2016 Diversity Lecture, has a series of short videos about unconscious bias.