Every day, people are increasingly becoming more affected by the media on our screens. Social media, movies, video games, and even advertising can have a significant impact on how you interact with friends, co-workers, and customers. Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize how our actions can be a product of society, so being aware of stereotypes, prejudices, and intolerances are extremely important in creating a more inclusive community. Cultural conditioning is the social process in which people and the media define our cultural values, beliefs, ethical systems, and ultimately the way we perceive ourselves in the world.

We all have unconscious biases.

What is unconscious bias?

Explained by the University of California Office of Diversity and Outreach, “Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.” Whereas conscious biases are explicit and intentional, unconscious bias is implicit and just as extensive – if not more – because it is embedded in one’s attitude and beliefs. It is often prevalent in day-to-day life where people interact, such as in a movie theater, at a restaurant, or during work in a company.

The key is to be aware of your thoughts.

How can we recognize unconscious bias?

Here are some first steps to recognizing your personal bias.

  1. Identify any preconceived notions you may have of groups of people.
  2. Pay attention to how you interact with others, and if there are any major changes in your body language or words when you interact with different people.
  3. Understand that all people are unique.
  4. Make conscious decisions to be empathetic towards all people.
  5. See the other person’s point of view.
  6. Intentionally make the effort to treat others how you would want to be treated.

You have the power to change how you act.

Why is it important to recognize my unconscious bias?

The future impact of understanding where your thoughts and biases come from can lead to being more fair and genuine to other people, such as for a ticket sales employee to non-discriminatorily sell tickets to all customers. By recognizing our unconscious biases, we are investing in a healthier mindset, closer relationships, and a greater sense of humanity.

An important question to think about: How can a person’s race and ethnicity be affected by society and its assumptions, both on an individual level and within different communities?