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Explicit Bias – Definition & Examples 

Published by at August 16th, 2023 , Revised On September 1, 2023

In today’s interconnected world, understanding cognitive bias is crucial. Biases affect our perceptions, decisions, and interactions, from workplaces to personal relationships. While we often discuss implicit biases, those that are hidden or unconscious, it is equally important to recognise and confront explicit biases, including instances of actor-observer bias, which plays a role in how we perceive our actions versus the actions of others.

Let’s explore what is explicit bias in detail. 

Explicit Bias Definition 

Here’s how you can define explicit bias:

Explicit bias refers to our attitudes and beliefs about a person or group on a conscious level. It is the biases that a person is fully aware of and can openly express. These biases are directly accessible through introspection and can be measured with self-report surveys or questionnaires. 

Using a source evaluation method, one can also discern whether a claim about explicit bias is grounded in fact or simply results from publication bias.

Explicit biases can be based on race, gender, age, religion, and other characteristics. They contrast with implicit biases, which are subconscious preferences or prejudices that people might not be aware they hold, including biases that might have roots in the Pygmalion effect, where higher expectations can lead to increased performance.

Explicit Bias vs Implicit Bias

Explicit and implicit biases are both forms of prejudice, but they operate at different levels of awareness and manifest in different ways. Here is a breakdown of the difference between implicit and explicit bias. 

Criteria Explicit Bias Implicit Bias
Awareness Conscious form of bias. Aware and can express. Unconscious form of bias. May not be aware.
Measurement Direct: Surveys, questionnaires, self-reports. Indirect: Tools like the Implicit Association Test (IAT).
Origin Personal experiences, societal influences, active information seeking. Formed over time due to societal, cultural, and media influences.
Manifestation Overt actions, statements, and decisions reflect conscious beliefs. Subtle behaviour without realisation, e.g., unconscious preferences in hiring.
Changeability Can change through education and self-reflection. Requires consistent effort, exposure, and retraining of brain associations.

Types of Explicit Bias 

Here are some types of explicit bias, along with definitions and examples:

Racial Bias

A conscious belief that certain races are superior or inferior to others.

A hiring manager believes that individuals of a certain race are less intelligent or hard-working and, therefore, does not hire them.

Gender Bias

A conscious belief about the roles, abilities, and characteristics of males and females.

Thinking that a woman might not be as competent as a man in a traditionally male-dominated profession, such as a pilot or engineer.

Age Bias (Ageism)

A conscious belief about individuals based on age typically favours the young or old.

Believing that older employees will not be as tech-savvy and, therefore, not considering them for IT-related positions.

Religious Bias

A conscious belief about the followers of a certain religion, thinking they are either superior or inferior based on their religious beliefs or practices.

Not hiring someone because they wear a hijab, turban, or cross.

Socioeconomic Status Bias

A conscious belief about individuals based on their income, job, or class.

Thinking someone who comes from a low-income neighbourhood is likely to be untrustworthy or lazy.

Nationality or Ethnicity Bias

A conscious belief about individuals based on their nationality or ethnicity.

Believing that someone from a particular country is more aggressive or less intelligent based on stereotypes.

Disability Bias

A conscious belief about the capabilities or worth of individuals with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

Assuming a person in a wheelchair cannot participate in certain activities or tasks without asking them.

Weight or Appearance Bias

A conscious belief about people based on their weight, physical appearance, or attractiveness.

Someone who is overweight is lazy or lacks discipline.

Educational Bias

A conscious belief about individuals based on their level or type of education.

Thinking someone who did not attend college is not smart or capable.

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Examples of Explicit Bias 

A scholarly source might provide a more in-depth look into explicit biases present in scientific communities. For instance, primary source materials like original studies might reveal the presence of explicit biases in how researchers approach their subjects. In contrast, secondary sources, such as reviews or meta-analyses, might shed light on broader trends in bias across multiple studies.

Here are some explicit bias examples:

  • Statements like “Women are not as good at math as men” or “All teenagers are lazy” reflect explicit biases based on gender and age, respectively.
  • A hiring policy that explicitly prefers candidates of a particular race or gender over others.
  • A public figure who openly states that one racial group is superior to another.
  • Sharing a post or meme that makes derogatory generalisations about a certain nationality.
  • A sign in front of an establishment saying, “No dogs or [specific ethnicity] allowed.”
  • A textbook that clearly states one gender is more suited for domestic tasks while another is better at professional roles.
  • Movies where characters of certain ethnicities are consistently portrayed as villains or criminals.
  • A political campaign explicitly promises to discriminate against or disadvantage a particular group if the candidate is elected.
  • Refusing to rent a flat to someone explicitly because of their religion or race.
  • Being part of or supporting groups or organisations that openly discriminate or promote hate against a certain group based on race, religion, gender, etc.

How to Reduce Explicit Bias?

Here are some steps to help reduce explicit bias:


Recognise and admit your own biases. This is the first and most crucial step. Consider tools like the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to uncover biases you might not know.

Educate Yourself

Learn about marginalised groups’ histories, struggles, and contributions. Using an affinity bias lens, one can reflect on why they naturally gravitate towards certain sources and consciously choose to diversify the information they consume. The more you know, the more empathetic and open-minded you will become.

Engage in Open Dialogue

Engage in conversations about bias, prejudice, and discrimination. This can be uncomfortable, but it’s essential for growth.

Expand your Social Circle

Interact with diverse people from various backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. Personal relationships can be powerful tools for breaking down stereotypes.

Consume Diverse Media

Expose yourself to books, movies, news sources, and other media from diverse perspectives.

Challenge Biased Statements

When you come across a potentially biased statement, it is essential to discern whether it is an actor-observer bias or a genuine explicit bias. This distinction can guide how you approach the conversation and educate the other person.

When you hear or read biased statements, ask for evidence or the basis of the claim. Often, these statements are based on stereotypes or misinformation.

Avoid Stereotyping

Everyone is unique and shouldn’t be judged solely based on a group attribute.

Practice Empathy

Put yourself in others’ shoes. Putting oneself in others’ shoes is crucial. Think of situations where you may have felt the ceiling effect, where your potential was capped, and empathise with others who face biases that limit them.

How would you feel if treated unfairly based on an uncontrollable attribute?


Encourage friends and family to call out your biases. Sometimes, an external perspective is what’s needed to recognise our own prejudice.

Educate Others

As you learn more about your own biases and how to overcome them, share your knowledge and experiences with others.

Support Anti-Bias Initiatives

Support organisations and initiatives that work to combat bias and promote equality.

Commit to Continuous Improvement

Addressing and reducing bias is not a one-time act but a continuous process. Keep educating yourself and be open to new perspectives.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Explicit bias refers to conscious, deliberate prejudices or beliefs about certain groups. It is when individuals openly acknowledge and express their biased views, often resulting from personal experiences, cultural norms, or societal influences. These biases can influence decisions, behaviours, and attitudes towards those groups overtly and recognisably.

Explicit bias refers to conscious, deliberate prejudices or beliefs about certain groups. Implicit bias, on the other hand, involves subconscious associations or judgments about these groups, often unintentional and unrecognised by the individual. Both can influence behaviour, but explicit biases are openly acknowledged while implicit biases operate below the surface.

The opposite of explicit bias is explicit fairness or neutrality, where individuals consciously and deliberately treat all groups equally without favour or prejudice. Explicit fairness involves intentionally recognising and challenging biases, ensuring equitable treatment and representation based on conscious decisions and beliefs.

An example of explicit bias is when someone openly declares, “I will not hire people from Country X because I believe they are all lazy.” This statement clearly shows a conscious and deliberate prejudice against individuals from Country X based on a generalised and discriminatory belief about their work ethic.

Explicit bias in healthcare refers to conscious, deliberate prejudices healthcare professionals hold towards patients based on race, gender, socio-economic status, or other attributes. This can lead to differential treatment, misdiagnosis, or unequal care provision. Such biases compromise the principle of equitable care and can have detrimental health outcomes.

About Owen Ingram

Avatar for Owen IngramIngram is a dissertation specialist. He has a master's degree in data sciences. His research work aims to compare the various types of research methods used among academicians and researchers.