Implicit Bias Initiative

Implicit bias is a growing area for research and discussion. Offered here are materials for further reading and review, both in the legal field and, to a lesser extent, in other disciplines as well. Extensive further resources are available from sites listed as Affiliations.

I.          Introduction
The ABA Section of Litigation developed this Toolbox for use in exploring implicit bias and approaches to “debiasing.” Some of the materials are the Section’s own; others are taken from additional sources. Two have been particularly helpful. First, this work relies greatly on the Building Community Trust Model Curriculum and Instruction Manual developed as a Joint Project of the ABA Criminal Justice Section, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, and Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice. With enormous gratitude and respect for their work, we acknowledge our colleagues’ generous sharing of approach, knowledge, and materials. A second leading source for information and training materials is the pioneering work of the National Center for State Courts, which has also piloted a Toolbox approach.

II.          Overview of the Self-Guided Presentation
The Toolbox is designed to be used for group presentation. It offers introductory materials for the presenter, a quick reading list for possible use pre-session, a PowerPoint presentation with a set of PowerPoint instructions and the Facilitator Instruction Manual for the facilitator, and post-session evaluation materials. For some parts of the program, video materials are offered.
The self-guided presentation and the Toolbox as a whole are works in progress, and we welcome all comments, suggestions, and contributions to enrich the materials and make them as widely useful as possible.

Estimated Time: 90 minutes CLE
Recommended Presenters: We recommend that faculty and facilitators for your program reflect diversity. We believe that the Toolbox can be used by an interested facilitator willing to carefully prepare from the materials provided. You may want to consider bringing in a social psychologist or cultural competency trainer from your area to assist in presenting these materials. If you elect to partner with a psychologist or cultural competency expert, we encourage you to spend sufficient time talking with your expert prior to the training, to bridge any potential gaps in knowledge about the legal system and the anticipated audience.
Also, we suggest that you consider opportunities for blended learning—having the participants review substantive materials in advance of a training event, thereby reserving the valuable resource of time in the same room for a brief review of the substantive material and more active engagement when presented. In this day and age of shrinking budgets and decreasing training dollars, having participants preview lectures online has the potential to leverage your resources and to maximize the impact of the training. You may also want to consider setting up a follow-up listserv or discussion site online for participants to continue their learning.

Objectives of the Presentation

  • Understand what implicit bias means and how it may influence our decisions.
  • Understand that being implicitly biased does not necessarily mean we act in explicitly biased ways.
  • Learn to recognize some behaviors that may suggest bias or differential treatment.
  • Learn some techniques that help debias perceptions and improve interactions.

Synopsis: [Slide by Slide Instructions for using the PowerPoint]

IV.          THE VIDEO
Section of Litigation, The Science and Implications of Implicit Bias
This twenty-minute film offers a great summary of the neuroscience relevant to understanding implicit bias. Showing it at the end of the PowerPoint Presentation offers a good overview and conclusion.


VI.          GLOSSARY

The work on this bibliography in its current form was completed in 2012 and is a work in progress. The authors invite readers to suggest additions and help keep the site up to date. For suggestions, email Professor Sarah Redfield,
[1]American Bar Association ABA, Criminal Justice Section et al., Building Community Trust: Improving Cross-cultural Communication in the Criminal Justice System [hereinafter “ABA, Building Trust”]:  “This is a resource developed by the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section and cosponsored by the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities and the ABA Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice. This resource was funded by the American Bar Association Board of Governors Enterprise Fund. No attempt has been made to treat the topic exhaustively. These materials are intended for education and training only. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information presented in these materials. We do not assume any liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained within.”