What is Social Bias?

Social bias can be positive and negative and refers to being in favor or against individuals or groups based on their social identities (e.g., race, gender, etc.).

Types of Biases

Biases are often based on stereotypes and prejudices that are systemically maintained. When individuals act on their biases, this is considered discrimination. Members of certain social groups (e.g., women, Muslims, transgender people) are more likely to experience discrimination due to living in a society that does not adequately promote equity.

Biases Defined

Stereotype (Thoughts)

A view held by a group of people toward another group of people, which is fixed and unwavering, allowing for no critical judgment.

Prejudice (feelings)

A negative attitude or feeling toward a person because of their membership to a particular social group. These attitudes and feelings could include disdain, hatred, or simply feeling uncomfortable around or about the devalued group.

Discrimination (behaviors)

Prejudice + social power; when members of a more powerful social group act unjustly and unfairly toward members of a less powerful social group because of their membership to that group.


Identify if the statements below are an example of Stereotype, Prejudice, or Discrimination:

Your mother tells you that all Asian people are bad drivers.


At your workplace, you see a cartoon going around that contains graphic images and words that degrade women.


Your friend tells you that she understands your dorm room is dirty, because it’s just how men are.


You overhear your roommate saying that he is disgusted by the idea of two men kissing.


At a graduate school interview, you receive questions about your physical disabilities and health limitations.


A classmate tells you that they just don’t like gay people.