8 in 10 admit reacting to headlines with bias before reading whole story

NEW YORK — Americans who are looking to tap into their inner humanitarian think that bias should have no place when giving others a helping hand. The survey of 2,005 adults reveals how conscious and unconscious biases may affect their behavior in all aspects of life, from the media they consume to the charities they support.

With that in mind, more than half (54%) note that they wish they had more exposure to information that could help them overcome biases.

For example, eight in 10 people confess they’ve reacted to an online article solely based on its headline. However, most respondents (89%) disagreed with their initial reaction after reading the entire story. Others admit their unconscious bias sets in when trying something different outside their comfort zone (62%) or walking into a store after judging its window display (60%).

Conscious versus unconscious bias

Conducted by OnePoll in partnership with Zakat Foundation of America, a U.S.-based humanitarian organization, the study also looked at how people view themselves compared to their peers. Nearly six in 10 of all respondents (57%) say they’re used to being the only person from their racial or ethnic background in a given room.

Eighty-nine percent of Asians or Pacific Islanders (117 respondents) echoed that sentiment the most, followed by 65 percent of Black or African Americans (396 respondents) and half of White respondents.

When asked if they’re familiar with other types of biases, most say they’re aware of gender bias (58%) and racism (51%). However, 40 percent admit they lack knowledge about religious prejudice. When selecting which charities to support, the Zakat Foundation of America points out that people can also act biased without realizing it, even when helping children in need.

“In our orphan sponsorship program, we noticed girls getting sponsored faster than boys, younger children faster than teenagers, and lighter-skinned children faster than darker-skinned children,” says Amna Mirza, Zakat Foundation’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.

How do people become more open-minded?

Interestingly, Black respondents are most likely to attribute their open-mindedness to having worked in different industries (61%), while White and Asian or Pacific Islanders believe it’s their experiences meeting new people (59%). Despite that, only one in four people think their core group of friends represents various races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds.

White respondents are almost twice as likely as Black respondents (21% vs. 13%) to report having “completely homogenous” friend groups. Meanwhile, a third of those surveyed admit that their workplace is “completely homogeneous,” making it the area least likely to exhibit diversity in most respondents’ lives.

The data further suggests that people consider several factors before supporting a charity. Nearly half of respondents (48%) say understanding an organization’s mission and having a closeness to where they live (40%) would most likely motivate them to donate to their cause.

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