Mahzarin R. Banaji, Max H. Bazerman, & Dolly Chugh
Harvard Business Review
Originally published in 2003
Here is an excerpt:
Bias That Emerges from Unconscious Beliefs
Most fair-minded people strive to judge others according to their merits, but our research shows how often people instead judge according to unconscious stereotypes and attitudes, or “implicit prejudice.” What makes implicit prejudice so common and persistent is that it is rooted in the fundamental mechanics of thought. Early on, we learn to associate things that commonly go together and expect them to inevitably coexist: thunder and rain, for instance, or gray hair and old age. This skill—to perceive and learn from associations—often serves us well.
But, of course, our associations only reflect approximations of the truth; they are rarely applicable to every encounter. Rain doesn’t always accompany thunder, and the young can also go gray. Nonetheless, because we automatically make such associations to help us organize our world, we grow to trust them, and they can blind us to those instances in which the associations are not accurate—when they don’t align with our expectations.
Because implicit prejudice arises from the ordinary and unconscious tendency to make associations, it is distinct from conscious forms of prejudice, such as overt racism or sexism. This distinction explains why people who are free from conscious prejudice may still harbor biases and act accordingly.
The entire article is here.