How to sleep away your unconscious racial bias
June 17, 2015
Northwestern University research shows it’s possible to reduce biases while a person sleeps
Scientists say many of our brains are packed with unconscious, negative views of women and minorities. Negative views often formed by years of exposure to cultural stereotypes. Consciously, many of us find these views deplorable. And some people refuse to believe that unconscious biases take up any space in their minds. Guess again. Researchers say unconscious bias is how we deal with information overload. The human brain stores about 11 million pieces of information. But we can only process so much at one time. Bias provides a mental shortcut to cut through the clutter. But unleashed outside the brain, those shortcuts can lead to discrimination. A new study by Northwestern University is taking the idea of conquering unconscious bias one step farther. The research shows it's possible to reduce biases while a person sleeps. But the experiment has alarmed some ethicists. They question whether science designed to change your mind while you sleep could be abused.