SIG: Inclusion in Neuroscience - Post 2
Author: Skyler Hughes
Undergraduate intern for the B-RAD Lab at the University of Alabama
This past week in B-RAD lab we discussed different types, examples, and instances of biases in science. As a self-reflection exercise, our lab group took the Implicit Association Test to become aware of any inherent biases we may have. Although we had our reservations about how accurate the itself test was, it was definitely a good task for recognizing that biases exist, and that it is important to address them and to be self-aware of them. After initially taking the test, we found ourselves discussing where these biases come from- are they inherent or are they learned? If a child were to take this same test, would there be instances of discrimination? Assuming children aren't born with prejudice, we debated on whether these biases stemmed from learning through modeling or conditioning. Recognition of the roots of these biases is the first step in acknowledging our intolerance.
There are tons of examples of instances of biases in the research field. Within a lab space, there are many access barriers that prevent a large amount of people from participating in the research. Certain expectations for participation, including speaking English, access to certain technology, transportation to the research center, or having to take off work for the study excludes a lot of the general population. Not just the research methods itself, but the scientists who conduct the research, the dispersal of results, the analyses scientists use to present their results, along with the people the scientists are presenting their data to has the potential for biases and exclusion. So much of scientific research samples the same groups, generalizing data from a small sample to a very large, diverse population. The W.E.I.R.D. phenomenon describes this issue, acknowledging that most of the participants of psychological tests are Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic. This specific description is not representative of the United States population. In order to make our research, and psychological research overall more accessible and more representative, we must make an effort to be inclusive of the diversity in our population.
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