Bias

Objectives

  • To identify bias
  • To develop experience being unbiased
  • To grasp a deeper understanding of communication
  • To think objectively about research
  • To strengthen interviewing skills

Materials

  • Whiteboard/chalkboard
  • Dry erase markers/chalk
  • Pens
  • Paper
  • Video of the nightly news
  • Newspaper articles (or headlines from newspaper articles)
  • “How Do We Know there is Bias?” handouts (1 per participant)
  • “Biased Scenarios” handouts (1 per participant)

Prepare Before

N/A


Warm Up

Show participants images of bias in magazine ads.  Or as another option, show participants news video clips from the nightly news: two stations covering the same story would be great.

Experience

PART 1:  Working from headlines

Show participants newspaper headlines.

  • What do you think is the general attitude towards the story of this article?
  • Who are the reporters for? Who are they against?
  • What do you expect the rest of this story to be about?
  • How do you know this without having read the article?

PART 2:  Working from news articles

In triads, have participants read newspaper articles, looking for bias.  They should use “How Do We Know there is Bias?”  as a guide to answer questions.  Each triad should present a summary of what they find to the class, pointing out specific words or phrases that show bias.

Reflect

What is bias?

What should you look for to detect bias?

How does bias affect us?

Why do people use biased information?

Should a researcher be biased?  Why or why not?

Summarize

Bias means that our own ideas, thoughts, or agenda influences information. Bias can affect research in many ways.

  • Bias should be left out of interview questions and focus groups when conducting research.
  • Bias can positively or negatively influence others.
  • Bias can influence how we are seeing results (e.g., by looking only at the results that reinforce our beliefs).
  • Unbiased questions look and sound differently than biased questions.  For example, a biased question might sound like, “How gross is your neighborhood?” Whereas, an unbiased question might sound like, “What is your neighborhood like?”

What do you need to do for yourself to remain open to all perspectives?

Demonstrate

Give the participants biased scenarios and comments from the given worksheet or make up your own.  Have them rewrite or rephrase these comments so that they do not contain bias.

Review

Why is it important to be unbiased in doing research?