Articles, Blog

Understanding unconscious bias

October 18, 2019


The unconscious mind is amazing. It can process vastly more information than our conscious mind by using shortcuts based on our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences to make almost instantaneous decisions about everything around us. The snag is it’s wrong quite a lot of the time. Especially on matters that need rational thinking. Here is a classic example. A bat and a ball cost £1.10. If the bat costs £1 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost? Most people, including over 50% of students at some of the world’s leading universities get the answer wrong and say 10 pence. The answer is actually 5 pence. Many of us choose 10 pence without thinking. This is because our unconscious mind uses instinct, not analysis. So our unconscious is fallible. It’s also biased. It makes snap judgements of people we meet, categorising them according to gender, social and other characteristics. In milliseconds we judge whether somebody is like us and belongs to our ‘in group’. These are the people we favour. So men might favour men, while women might
favour women. However, we can belong to different ‘in groups’ and we like to be part of an ‘in group that’s powerful, which could mean a woman favouring a man over a woman. That’s unconscious bias. All of us have it and it colours our decisions without our realising. For example, research reveals that if I were a man, you would be more likely to be nodding in agreement right now, because people pay more attention to a male voice. The Royal Society fosters excellence in science but this can only be achieved if we select from the widest range of talent, and that’s not possible if unconscious bias is narrowing down the field for non-scientific reasons. To lessen the impact of unconscious bias, which is easier for us to notice in others, we are raising the awareness of unconscious bias to members of our selection and appointment panels. We are encouraging panel members to deliberately slow down decision making, reconsider reasons for decisions, question cultural stereotypes and monitor each other for unconscious bias. We can’t cure unconscious bias but with self awareness, we can address it.

100 Comments

  • Reply 006 As you like it. November 7, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Apparently, I've never met non-biased people. It's hard to find. Because sometimes, we consider our opinions as one form of prejudices which could be different.

  • Reply Jaydevil2012 November 7, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    lots of bias in this video. and please don't try and monitor others…

  • Reply OrphicVideos November 11, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Also, HOLY SHIT! This is probably the biggest and most fundamental scientific revelation ever discovered. Is there such a thing as consciousness at all? What does this mean for free will? Is there such a thing as justice?! Corporate employment videos probably aren't the best forum to discuss it until we've figured out more of the details.

  • Reply Esaam Rousan November 28, 2016 at 1:01 am

    unconscious bias = natural = innate

  • Reply Christian Peter December 2, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    A lot of people have missed the point of the video

  • Reply Blood Covenant December 11, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Unconscious bias = excuse for being racist

  • Reply pimpninja1985 January 26, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    A biased video against being biased. Liberal logic.

  • Reply Florin Mocanu March 2, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    "Many of us chose 10p without thinking"
    Erm… nope! I thought first, did the maths, and still gave a rubbish answer…. Does that mean both my conscious and unconscious thinking are biased? And if so, do two biases make a non-bias? :o)

  • Reply Florin Mocanu March 2, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Ah! So women favour women, apart from the time when they favour men? Good to know….
    And if a woman favours a man IN ORDER TO be part of an ingroup that is powerful, how is that UNCONSCIOUS? It just sounds to me like she's quite aware of what she's doing.

  • Reply Monkey March 9, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    The Royal Society fallen prey to Cultural Marxism. And "Monitor each other for unconscious bias" – Jesus Christ, this is Orwellian/Stasi/Red Guard territory.

    We are doomed.

  • Reply Patrick McLoughlin March 17, 2017 at 10:49 am

    so basically when you can't throw the racist label at people anymore because you have no real evidence its now 'unconscious bias'. A thought crime. There is no evidence but I'm accusing you of a thought crime because this is science. With the vaguest hate crime laws coupled with this it is quite easy to get someone in the dock for a crime they did not commit.

  • Reply Karl Striepe March 23, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Damn, for once we Americans have a better grasp of English than the English. In the US, we refer to this sort of bias as subconscious or implicit bias, because, well, you're awake while it happens.

  • Reply yingany April 10, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    What I really hate most about this"game" is that the only reason we're even talking about unconscious bias is to justify the compulsion and infliction of social programs for the usual groups on the population but because there's no real justification for the new legislation and programs, here and on the way, we first have to be mind fucked so that we'll just lie down and take it.

  • Reply Aelius Rex April 16, 2017 at 12:34 am

    "monitor others". Now that's the scary part. And anyone who says that academics won't deliberately steer the other way, due fear of being "monitored", is delusional.

  • Reply Annabelle Rankin April 17, 2017 at 6:25 am

    'Unconscious bias' is extremely sinister and is really attack on a person's culture, upbringing and personal experience. A great tool for cultural Marxism because people who fall for this are going to go home and accuse their family members of prejudice, etc, and grow to trust the state above family. This is 'thought-policing' BS.

  • Reply Gwen Hill April 17, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    CHALLENGE: Take one or more of the quick, free, and easy implicit bias assessments from Harvard University. I took it and it revealed my hidden biases. Here's the link to take any of the 13 Implicit Bias Assessments.: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html — You might be surprised! 🙂

  • Reply A S April 18, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Junk science in action.

  • Reply MyOther Soul May 8, 2017 at 3:55 am

    It possible to have false premises support a true statement. This video does that, almost, having colleagues monitoring each other for unconscious bias won't work, how can you know whether their biases or it's you.

    SInce this is a science channel I thought I should point out some weak points in the explanations given.

    0:13 Our unconscious mind can process more information that our conscious mind. First they are not different things. There's a lot of neural activity involved with perception, we aren't aware of each one, together they are our conscious experience and not any way separate from it. Conscious is the totality of brain activity and not a different thing.

    0:15 Unconscious process use short cuts. What do you mean short cuts? From what we know of the brain it's not an algorithmic thing, it doesn't follow a series of logical operations, it's associative in nature and does take steps a long some ideal path.

    0:32 The unconscious mind is wrong quite a lot of the time. It evolved because having accurate information about the world increases survivability. If it got it wrong so often we might not have survived long enough to concoct situations in which it is wrong.

    0:51 Bat and ball problem: The ball is coming at you pretty fast, which muscles do you have to contract and when in order to hit the ball? Most people won't even know what facts they would need to know to solve that problem but the unconscious mind does it with ease.

    We all have biases we are unaware of, we should take steps to control for them. Occam's razor is one way to do that. Cut away everything you do not absolutely need even if it's a bit you like. We don't need ingroup-outgroup social dynamics to understand unconscious bias all we need is the associative nature of the brain and maybe confirmation bias.

  • Reply Elaborate Troll May 26, 2017 at 12:24 am

    The more you travel and experience the less unconscious bias you will have

  • Reply Doford June 18, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    The bat ball thing Is simple misunderstanding language. The brain is one giant filter and if we didn't filter things we would go crazy or not be able to make decisions.  People don't have a bias unconscious, people lack understanding.

  • Reply dallanta June 19, 2017 at 12:04 am

    Cute little video. I think the Royal Society has no concept of reality. They are going for the unconcious bias explanation while ignoring all else going on around them.

  • Reply studioprophet June 25, 2017 at 3:42 am

    can someone cite a study that shows that people pay attention to male voices over female voices? that assertion was just glossed over.

  • Reply studioprophet June 25, 2017 at 4:11 am

    the suggestion to monitor one another for unconscious bias seems to be a problem . Studies regarding the attributiin error show that people tend to base the behavior of others on internal character traits, while excusing their personal behavior to external factors.
    Example:
    Someone cuts you off in traffic and you think that they are inconsiderate and selfish, but when you cut someone else off it is because you are rushing to the hospital to see you dying grandmother, or you kids graduation ceremony. The external situations rationalize the behavior you find inconsiderate and selfish.

  • Reply Patrick Butler July 19, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Just be conscious of our unconscious bias.

  • Reply Alchemy's Tempest August 1, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Believing this video is an example of unconscious bias..

  • Reply T S August 9, 2017 at 2:04 am

    Fucking bullshit. I'm fully conscious of my bias, I hate you, fuck off.

  • Reply PeeGee BeeDee September 12, 2017 at 2:31 am

    0:07 The Unconscious Mind Is Amazing. It Can Process Vastly More Information Than Our Conscious Mind By Using Shortcuts Based On Our Background, Cultural Environment, And Personal Experiences To Make Almost Instantaneous Decisions About Everything Around Us. The Snag Is It's Wrong Quite A Lot Of The Time, Especially On Matters That Need Rational Thinking.

    1:01 Our Unconscious Mind Uses Instinct Not Analysis. So Our Unconscious Is Fallible. It's Also Biased. It Makes Snap Judgments Of People We Meet. Categorizing Them According To Gender, Social, And Other Characteristics. In Milliseconds We Judge Whether Somebody Is Like Us And Belongs To Our In-Group. These Are The People We Favor.

  • Reply C CC September 16, 2017 at 3:07 am

    I believe it's call choice. . . It's personal preference. It's normal.
    Just another bs way to teach us white is bad. male is bad. christian is bad.

  • Reply Benjamin Symes September 22, 2017 at 12:19 am

    How do you figure the ball is worth 5 pence? If you take away the bats price of 1 pound, and take away the balls price of 5 pence, you are left with another 5 pence left over?

  • Reply PeeGee BeeDee September 25, 2017 at 1:29 am

    Six Pence None The Richer!

  • Reply MTH October 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Bullshit video. The Royal Society pandering to feminists and pseudoscience. The thought police is coming

  • Reply MTH October 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    If we want to fight the supposed discrimination then make EVERYTHING OPEN. Require to publish the CVs of all the applicants and the wages of everybody in the company so everybody can scrutinize all the data openly

  • Reply Grand October 11, 2017 at 6:54 am

    kon dum likes to eat kfc from the money they stole

  • Reply RMK 08 October 17, 2017 at 7:58 am

    This is Orwellian stuff. Let's replace "unconscious bias" with the fully conscious bias of leftist political correctness. To paraphrase "1984":  "Oh no, I’m an agent of unconscious bias. I didn’t know it myself. Thoughtcrime is so insidious. It just creeps up on you. My daughter found it out. Very proud of her. Very grateful I’ve been discovered before it’s too late. They won’t shoot me, will they? I know I can be very useful in a [HR consulting video?] labour camp…!"

  • Reply Richard V November 11, 2017 at 1:35 am

    Damn brits

  • Reply WestEast3259585 November 25, 2017 at 8:20 am

    👨 + 👩 = 1.8
    ???

  • Reply Such Cloutness January 1, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Ok, so we all associate good things with white males, lets humor that for a bit and i want everyone here to comment how to fix/ cure this thing no one can control because it is UNCONSCIOUS

  • Reply Prince Pineapple January 13, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    amazing

  • Reply Steve Littlefair January 13, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Nonsense

  • Reply Lilia Lang January 20, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Can somebody elaborate why the ball will cost 5 p?

  • Reply antiacus February 11, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    An organization dedicated to science should be dedicated to truth. The science behind unconscious bias isn't there. What little exists is basically useless as a tool for understanding and changing anything whatsoever yet you're going on as though it has been established. This is why people don't trust the scientific community. Whether it be global warming or unconscious bias, once an issue becomes politicized you get absolute garbage coming out of the mouths of the people who should be trustworthy to speak the truth and demonization of anyone who tries to oppose the narrative. Not science.

  • Reply Oscar Westmanzzz February 19, 2018 at 10:11 am

    How can you not even consider biological attributes in this video? It has the biggest impact on human behaviour, and is not even mentioned in the video. Absolute disgrace…

  • Reply shie et March 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    nerds

  • Reply richard barber March 9, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    literal bullshit

  • Reply smarthearts71 March 10, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Sounds like unconscious bullshit!!!!!!

  • Reply AdventureTime18 March 10, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Ideologies don't work, just look at the horrors of the 20th century. Glad to see so many critical thinkers challenging these radical Marxist oversimplifications in the comments.

  • Reply Jake Rosser April 1, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    The irony 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Reply WhyAyeMann May 12, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    they say they want to make decisions based on rational thinking so that they can come up with the best solution, yet they scramble to hire people based on ethnicity and gender to fulfill a diversity quota in the workspace. surely I cant be the only one seeing the sillyness in this.

  • Reply adam Shortnacy May 24, 2018 at 3:42 am

    When will liberal's quit making up words for white men. It's conscious biased.

  • Reply raijin199 May 25, 2018 at 5:49 am

    this video is retarded.

  • Reply blip98 May 29, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    So if everyone is unconsciously biased and it can be applied to just about anything, everyone is a racist weather they like it or not! Unless of course you are omnipotent and have 100% control of your unconscious mind.

  • Reply Brandon Tolbert May 30, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Please look up "fallacy of self exclusion". If I am unconscious I cannot know it. This is sophistry, leading to nihilism, leading to fatalism, leading to suicide.

  • Reply Ian Paling June 13, 2018 at 7:20 am

    Monitor each other, mmm…. what road is that going down I wonder reporting, perceived transgressors to big sister the matriarchy?

  • Reply Ian Paling June 13, 2018 at 7:21 am

    "Social justice" has as good as infected and corrupted everything now.

  • Reply Ian Paling June 13, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Mary Whitehouse v2.0.

  • Reply Ian Paling June 13, 2018 at 8:03 am

    "Unconscious bias" or in the REAL world thought policing, the ultimate goal of the matriarchal, authoritarian and tyrannical left, no wonder they are so eager to indoctrinate young impressionable children and shut up ideological opposition up using guttural tactics, wolve's in sheep's clothing.

  • Reply Ian Paling June 13, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Credit for allowing comments.

  • Reply SuperBsk2010 June 20, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    "The ball actually costs 5p!, therefore you are a racist bigot and we must monitor you :)"

  • Reply Simonnn June 21, 2018 at 12:39 am

    This is completely false and unfounded. Also you talk about unconscious bias yet you assume that "men" are the powerful in society at 1.45, classic SJW bullshit

  • Reply Cavscout101 July 11, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    WTF did I just watch?

  • Reply Giles B July 13, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Unconscious bias is actually correct a lot of the time – humans wouldn't have survived if it were not (throughout the 3 million or so years of human evolution, there must have been strong natural selection against genes predisposing people to make incorrect unconscious judgements).
    It's only in the modern world in certain situations requiring logical analysis where unconscious bias can lead to incorrect conclusions.

  • Reply FreeSpeech FreeSpeech. August 14, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    monitor each other….its 1984….going on this video its sugesting all personal chouce must be replaced..because personal choice is far to human…and humans are. wrong 50% of the time…which makes us right 50% of the time right…
    Unconscious bias training is like something out of communist china or george orwells mind control world…we have instincts for a reason..all part of being free freethinking human beings…stay away from this manipulation training.

  • Reply FreeSpeech FreeSpeech. August 14, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    the reason hafe got the bat and ball sum wrong is no one dies mental arithmetic anymore they have used calculators..and stop using the brain in their head…i got it right. ner

  • Reply Nobiles Novus homo August 29, 2018 at 5:54 am

    Thought about the ball. Came up with ten pence. Why? I thought of the bat as being a pound more than ten pence. It took me several moments to grapple with the answer. It is a pound more because IT is a pound more than 5 pence (which the ball is), FOR a total of 1 pound, ten pence, not a pound more than 10 pence for a total of 1 pound, 10 pence. You don’t have an unconscious bias, your math is wrong based off of logic you put together in your head, even after thinking, not something you didn’t know about. UGH… I feel like a Russian in grammar school… WHERE IS VODKA?! My head become clearer after drink. I hate English. Why no say bat was 1 pound more than ten pence ball?! Not bat is 1 pound more than total value of ball for total of 1 pound ten pence. Tricks with Semantics? Bleh. Feel like trick question math in high school again.

  • Reply John Turner September 10, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Unconscious bias is nonsense. The science on this completely dismantles it

  • Reply Dominic Price October 5, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Don't fucking dare tell me I would agree with you if you were a man.

  • Reply I'm myself October 14, 2018 at 12:58 am

    the world 0:25
    not the individual

  • Reply benhur120476 October 17, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    amazed the royal society preaching neo-marxism… they say "studies say" what studies on what circumtances?? pls geltelmen stop the post modernist biased lie you are marxists wolves dressed as kind & caring freedom thinkers.. but i truth no more than the property of the set of idieas of the pure and evil marxism diguised as equality

  • Reply Robert L S Jr November 1, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Ladies and gentlemen the death of western civilization

  • Reply Hanah dang November 11, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Why can't people make objective judgments?

  • Reply Jamie Hitt November 19, 2018 at 3:24 am

    To attempt pawning off flawed logic as bias, …is pure sophistry. And it's the ONLY thing keeping this "society" royal!

  • Reply Charming Ice November 27, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Gurl, I hate listening to men very consiously.

  • Reply Dio Brando January 10, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    You are addressing a ghost in the room which no one can see but only you can see.
    So basically you are crazy.

  • Reply Jay Cameron January 14, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Lots of crybabies in the comments below who, in trying to dispute the information presented, are only mocking themselves and their own ignorant bias by showing they don't get it.

  • Reply Paul Meyer January 14, 2019 at 4:38 am

    Whilst Bias is an important factor in decision making, there are social, political and economic pressures which, more often than not, influence us.

  • Reply Diogenes TheDog January 19, 2019 at 2:33 am

    Fanstastic and educational video. will use as a video citation for presentations ^_^

  • Reply michael davino January 30, 2019 at 3:04 am

    EARTH is FLAT retards stop pushing the God damned spinning GLOBE you secret society morons! How is that for unconscious and conscious bias?

  • Reply PuppetMaster February 2, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Wow, this video has shown me with great accuracy how much smarter I am than most people, holy shit look at all the stupid people commenting under this video, it's literally like they are retarded, and also many of them seemingly has a vast vocabulary, but still so heavily dunning Kruger biased. I wonder what the royal society thinks when they read these comments… ROFL 🤣

  • Reply Stuart Porteous February 6, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Anything on this topic triggers a lot of dudes

  • Reply Big Smoke February 6, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    science is a compilation of theories

  • Reply JD February 22, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    this is an absolute joke.
    Do you not think we see you Marxists plan?
    Everyone knows what youre doing, and youre going to fucking fail, miserably.
    When your ideology fails AGAIN, you will be expelled from western countries, for good.

  • Reply Vince Buckley March 6, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    CURE unconscious bias? Like, disassociate from instinct….. like the place where our very survival mechanisms live? You can keep that one, mate.

  • Reply Skies Orion March 8, 2019 at 2:30 am

    So your going against millions of years of evolution of instinct and safety awareness so ppl feel better. So should i not follow my in group of family for an outsider i know nothing of. A quick way to die in any species.

  • Reply Gilbert Arias March 26, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Addressed! I'm glad that's over.

  • Reply Centurian1225 April 29, 2019 at 12:26 am

    Who cares?

  • Reply Justin Carr May 3, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    The "Monitor Each Other for Unconscious Bias" is terrifying,it's like the Soviet Union monitoring each

  • Reply RiddlerBel July 14, 2019 at 11:47 am

    That's right: replace intuitive (unconscious, but not altogether unfounded) bias with conscious (race, gender, …) bias. Guess whom that favours.

  • Reply Ryan Wiggans July 18, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    Biased video about bias 🤣

  • Reply Pete Harrison July 20, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Where is the proof that people listen to a mans voice over a womans voice?

  • Reply JT S August 11, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Loads of old bollocks really

  • Reply Charles Velazquez August 11, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    I can't believe she made this video, and did not explain what the answer to the bat and the ball is, for those who want to know, I got you, the ball actually cost $0.05 or 5 cents, reason follows if your interested (using the dollar signs btw);

    The question is if the bat and the ball cost $1.10 together, and the bat is $1 more than the ball, how much is the ball?

    The point about this is that unconsciously, you like me, jumped to the ball costing 10 cents. But the question said that the bat cost $1 MORE than the ball, if you don't pay attention to that bit, then you'll get it wrong. Since it's a $1 more, the ball must cost 5 cents and the bat must cost $1.05 to not only be $1 more than the ball exactly but for the two to equal $1.10

  • Reply Emmanuel Taiwo August 21, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Very Interesting

  • Reply tomhnx2112 August 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    So where does the other 5p come from?

  • Reply shempone September 1, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    thanking fast – thinking slow

  • Reply The Royal Society September 26, 2019 at 10:27 am

    To find out about more key topics please visit our Discovering Science playlist:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLg7f-TkW11iWuiDXgxFR90NuqW51LWnbi

  • Reply J P September 27, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    This is psychotic – you are all insane. Anyone that falls for this crap needs their head checked.

  • Reply Lalitha Laharika October 2, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    I still do not understand how the answer is 5 pence…. plz help

  • Reply Simon Slade October 10, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    People who answer the cricket bat/ball problem incorrectly do so by misconception, not unconscious bias. Unless trained, we tend to think in terms of so-called simple equations rather the necessary simultaneous equations to solve such problems mentally

    Isn’t the recognition and elimination of unconscious bias through testing and behaviour modification more dangerous than that alleged bias itself?What kind of precedent for society is set by formally changing behaviours through monitoring and testing rather than allowing them, if they exist at all, to change naturally through normal human interaction?

    I find it hard to believe that this video was produced by an organisation as respected as the Royal Society.

  • Reply Andrea Mendenhall October 14, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Thought crimes 🙄

  • Reply Nathan lloyd October 15, 2019 at 10:05 am

    The question of the bat and ball can vary in price to what want really if you say 'more than'. 10p to 0p. Please use logic

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