What is Bias? Explanation and Examples

Bias is a one-sided or unbalanced view of things and is often based on  a person’s feelings. It can be used to persuade or prejudice someone towards a particular viewpoint. 

Bias Examples

Have a look at the two statements written below. They were both written by football supporters. One is a Chelsea supporter and the other is a Manchester United supporter.

Can you work out which is which?

Manchester United is one of the best teams in the World. They always have the best players and managers.

“My team is the best football team in the World. Players from all over the World want to play at Chelsea because they are such a great team.”

Bias can also occur as a result of someone’s past experiences. Have a look at the two statements below. One is written by someone who was bitten by an Alsatian when they were a child and one is written by someone who had a pet Alsatian as a child.

Can you work out which is which?

“Alsatians are the most loyal dogs. They are also very playful and loving and make excellent pets for families. They are very good with people, both adults and young children and have their own personality.”

“Alsatians are unpredictable and impossible to train. I would never have one as a pet, they make me feel nervous.”

The statement in blue was written by the person who had a pet Alsatian as a child and the one in red was written by the person that was bitten by an Alsatian as a child.

Intentional Bias

Intentional bias is when information is purposely selected to prove a particular viewpoint or opinion. Facts which do not support that viewpoint are left out on purpose.

Bias - Blue car

This car is for sale at Dave’s Deals.

It has had three owners, one of whom used it for racing.

It has also been in an accident and had to have a new bonnet and windscreen.

Additionally, it makes a knocking sound if it goes above 60 m.p.h.

Here is Dave’s sales pitch:

“A beautiful little car. It has had two careful owners and would be great for driving around the town. The front of the car is in particularly good condition.”

Notice how Dave has not mentioned the third owner who used the car for racing. He has also suggested only using the car in the town where the speed limit is 30 or 40 m.p.h.

Unintentional Bias

Unintentional bias is when someone thinks they are being honest and accurate but they do not have all the facts or have been given the wrong facts by someone else.

Polluted river

A new warehouse had been built next to a river.

Since the warehouse opened the river had become more polluted.

A new detergent factory had also opened recently and it had been dumping waste in the river.

The local newspaper reported the incident

“The warehouse must be closed down as soon as possible. They are polluting the river with waste products which will affect the health of our residents. They should also be made to pay to have the river water cleaned.”

The newspaper makes no mention of the new factory, possibly because the reporter had not realised that it had been built.

 

Citation Information:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2020). What is Bias?. Available: https://www.historykeyskills.com/what-is-bias/. Last accessed January 18th, 2022