Lesson Plan

When Perception and Reality Collide: Implicit Bias and Race

Different pairs of eyes


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GRADE LEVEL: High School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening

Two studies published by the American Psychological Association (APA) about perceptions and race led to these headlines: “We Think Black Men are Bigger than White Men (Even When they're Not)” and “Black Boys Are Perceived as Older and Less Innocent than Their White Peers.” These studies, one in 2014 and the other in 2017, found that people’s perceptions of African-American boys and men were inaccurate and different compared to their white counterparts. These perceptions are a reflection of stereotypes and assumptions that lead to implicit bias and can ultimately lead to discrimination that has consequences, sometimes dire.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about implicit bias, explore two recent APA studies about perceptions of African-American boys and men and develop a piece of personal writing where they reflect on implicit bias.