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CAMS 2151: Multimedia Writing

Identifying Bias

Bias is a preconceived inclination or preference for or against an idea, person, place, etc. 

Identifying bias is complicated because it can be subtle. It also exists on a spectrum making it more nuanced. There is no quick and easy way to ensure that you will identify bias in a source. The best way to identify bias is through careful evaluation. However, it's also important to remember that as a researcher, your reading of sources is done through the lens of your own biases.

Types of Bias

Bias can be conscious or unconscious. It can influence our actions in in obvious or subtle ways.

  • Conscious bias is also called explicit or intentional.
    • It may be expressed through harassment, exclusion, and prejudice.
  • Unconscious bias is also called implicit or unintentional.
    • The person may not be aware of their unconscious biases and harm may result even when there is no harmful intent.
    • These biases lead to unfounded judgements that are often incompatible with one's conscious values, and those can have far-reaching implications within hiring, health care, and policing interactions, among others.

Bias | Psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/bias

Evans, J. S. B. T. (2017). Thinking and reasoning: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780198787259.001.0001

Bias in Readers

Types of Bias in Readers Confirmation Bias Selective interpretation of information that reinforces existing beliefs cognitive bias Distorts thinking, influences beliefs, and sways decisions and judgments implicit bias An unconscious association, belief, or attitude toward any social group

Bias in Sources

Word Choice. Word Selection and Connotation. Look for inflammatory terms, overly positive or negative words, and other types of loaded language.

Omission and Selection what is included?  Who is left out? It often takes comparing news reports from multiple sources to observe this type of bias. Statistics can also be misleading if only including partial stats for circumstances.

Image/Video Use Selection and Editing Photos and videos can have a big impact on  the reader's interpretation. Depending on the images or video clips chosen for a story, individuals and events can look more/less  silly, serious, or violent than they actually were.

Research Strategies

Bias can be difficult to avoid entirely. Methods to minimize its impact on your research include:

  • Variety
    • Look for multiple sources on the same topic and identify common ground.
  • Awareness 
    • Be mindful of your own beliefs and approach sources with an open mind. 
  • Evaluation 
    • Use lateral reading and the 5 Ws to assess your sources carefully.

Resources