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Understanding the motive of moral judgment in communication between stereotypes and hidden bias


Words have a lot of power.

As cultures change and new groups gain more power, they push societies to rethink language, symbols, and traditions. With social media, we can connect with broader groups of people. The opportunity for connection also comes with the challenge of talking simultaneously to people in different stages of acceptance - who, in addition, are talking to each other. Taking part in the #IamRemarkable workshop arranged by Google Garage last week, got us to think about the use of the word hidden bias versus stereotypes in the conversations regarding minority representatives or discrimination. In this article, we will discuss the interlocked concepts by evaluating moral judgment and motive.






Stereotype and hidden bias – interlocked

Stereotypes are widely held believes and ideas of a particular type of person, human characteristics, or a thing, which are not fixed but sensitive to changes in the social context. Hidden biases, on the other hand, refer to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions unconsciously. As hidden bias refers to the unintentional stereotypes, we cannot separate these two terms from each other – stereotypes and hidden biases are interlocked. However, we can find a significant difference by examining the motive of the actions directed by peoples underlying moral judgments. Thus, we want to explore and encourage thoughts on the usage of the words stereotype and hidden bias to demonstrate the power that words have in communication.



The motive behind the action: moral beliefs theory

As we are discussing the difference of usage in words stereotype and hidden bias, we can examine the difference by philosophical literature of the moral distinction between active and passive harm. In moral judgments of right and wrong, the action and omission distinction plays a significant part - regarding causal responsibility and behavior. People place more causal responsibility on actions than omission. In the context of discrimination and prejudice, harmful stereotypes (actions) are judged to be morally worse than hidden causal bias (omission).



Make the difference in a collaborative conversation

The use of hidden bias will become more popular and accepted in the discussions about diversity, discrimination, and prejudice majorly due to the difference of motives in moral judgment. To create change, we need everyone. And by using words that do not make the other person defensive, can make the difference between collaborative conversation and an argument.


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