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Dara G. Friedman-Wheeler argues, "If we better understand our own and others' thought processes, we will have a better chance of changing minds and moving forward."

Democracy requires us to work on our biases — all of them

Friedman-Wheeler is the director of the Center for Psychology at Goucher College.

This year we will all need to decide who we want to lead our country forward. Making a decision of this sort requires a clarity of vision that is hard to attain. As humans, we all have psychological biases; we see the world not objectively as it is, but through lenses that distort our perceptions. In many cases, these are shortcuts our brains take in processing information. But they can be quite harmful.

We all have an obligation to work to overcome these biases and we cannot be informed, rational participants in our democracy without doing so.

Implicit biases have gotten increased attention in recent years, particularly as they pertain to race. Implicit racial bias can cause innumerable harms — from the injustices of being arrested at a Starbucks and being more likely to be suspended from preschool, to the spread of anti-Asian discrimination along with the coronavirus and deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

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