by Amy Ferrer
This post is part of a series of posts soliciting public comment on the APA’s new Good Practices Guide. In the first post in this series, I provided some background on how the APA Good Practices Guide came about and presented its preface and first section. For more on the guide and this series, go back and read that post.
In this fifth post of the series, I’m covering section 5 of the Good Practices Guide, titled “Countering Implicit Bias.” This section reviews research on implicit bias and outlines steps faculty and departments can take to reduce it and its impacts.
The section begins with a review of the definition of implicit bias—the unconscious activation of both positive and negative stereotypes—and how it operates. It invites readers to look at implicit bias as philosophers—“We are professionally involved in unearthing assumptions and values underlying ordinary thought and practice, and subjecting them to critical examination”—and as teachers and administrators— “We can make progress in dealing with implicit biases in ourselves and others if we can make the academic setting one in which members of diverse groups come together to work on shared projects.”
Section 5 goes on to identify ways that we can do this, including taking and encouraging others to take implicit bias self-assessments (including students, potentially as part of coursework) and putting in place structures for hiring and admissions that will limit the impact of implicit bias. (For more on these structures, see section 4 on best practices in interviewing.) The section also encourages critical engagement with implicit bias self-assessments—“Just as the tests and associated hypotheses afford a teaching opportunity, so do questions of the validity of the tests and hypotheses”—and includes several resources for further discussion of such tests.
The section ends with a list of informative resources on implicit bias, many of which are cited throughout the section.
Implicit bias is a hot topic, so I invite your feedback on this section, on the questions below and anything else you’d like to offer:
- Have you included the topic of implicit bias in your teaching? Have you encouraged or required students to take self-assessments? If so, do you have suggestions from your experience that might be useful for this section of the GPG?
- Has your department used implicit bias trainings and/or taken any of the other steps outlined in this section? How have those efforts been received? Based on your experience, is there anything you’d like to add to what’s provided in this section?
Amy Ferrer has been Executive Director of the APA since 2012.