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Rebecca Burleson

Jessie Carty
UWRT 1102
October 21, 2014

The Innate Bias and Development

As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, bias is "an inclination


of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned
judgment (i.e. prejudice)." Research has shown that bias is present in humans at all
stages, including adolescence, as well as animals. While it has been accepted as a
concept synchronous with day to day life, it can largely affect how a society operates.
There is an apparent bias in all of us, but where does it come from and how does it
develop? We can begin with the understanding that innate bias is a foundational bias
that can develop through a combination of genetic, environmental, societal, and cultural
exposure. Research explores if this foundational bias has any correlation to factors
such as gender and disorders, as well as focusing on the different personas it can take.
Bias is typically affected by outside factors, but there are also internal factors that
come into play. Most interestingly is the genetic structural difference of the brain
between males and females. The Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge University
reviewed the results of over 125 neuroscience research articles, published in a span of

20+ years time. This study reported that on average, males have larger total brain
volumes as compared to women. However, in certain areas of the brain, such as the
left frontal pole, women had higher densities than men, as well has higher volumes in
other areas of the brain (University of Cambridge).
Although no confirmative evidence resulting from the study at Cambridge has
shown to prove differential bias development within genders, it still leaves a lot to say
about the potential innate bias has on the sexes. Further, while this doesn't directly
correlate to how bias is formed, it can affect how bias is received in the opposing
genders later on in life.
The former factors mentioned are considered when determining psychiatric
conditions that appear to be prevalent in one gender as opposed to another, which can
greatly affect bias (University of Cambridge). For example, schizophrenia is thought to
occur at equal frequencies among men and women. However, men seem to be more
affected by its symptoms, which often dance around underlying trust issues in others
around them. Due to the difference in brain structure between men and women,
disorders like schizophrenia can alter bias between genders (Canuso and Gahan;
National Institute of Mental Health).
Genetic factors tend to get overlooked as an explanation to bias because others
seem more logical or visible. As Joseph Buckhalt of Auburn University stated, "Genes
are invisible environmental differences are much more available to us. Extended
families in America tend less and less to grow up and live near enough one another for
family resemblance to be noticed in extended kin" (Caplan). Perhaps other aspects do
get explored more and put on a pedestal, but for a good reason. Environment, society,

and culture, although different, can all correspond together to create a large affect on an
individual's bias that cannot be picked apart simply by which category it came from.
The biggest argument when discussing bias developed by genetics and
environment is nature versus nurture. The former relies on the idea of traits occurring
naturally from birth. The latter relies on the idea of being born with a "blank mind."
Those who believe in inherent nature are called nativists, with those who believe in
environmental contribution deemed empiricists (Cherry).
In the 1956 film "The Bad Seed," a young girl ultimately ends up killing a
classmate over a penmanship medal. When news spread of the classmate drowning,
no one knew it was the girl's fault. Assuming she'd be fazed by death of a classmate,
her mother was concerned when she showed no signs of distress. Once the mother
later realizes it was her daughter who drowned the classmate, she goes through several
breakdowns wondering why and how her child could behave so badly with no remorse.
This movie is a great example of the nature versus nurture debate in action. The
mother knew that her child had been raised normally and was very confused as to how
her child could have ended up so cruel. The movie goes on to later discover that the
child's ancestry was filled with psychopathic murderers and that there must have been a
link somewhere to explain the child's behavior. Although depressing and controversial,
the movie stirred up a lot of support for the "nature" side of the long-holding debate that
had not previously been present. There is usually full support for nurture or an "inbetween" support that suggests both coexist to develop tendencies in humans.
Although The Bad Seed proved to be a case of genetic tendency, parents own
views tend to drastically shape how children perceive groups of people. This usually

goes one of two ways: it causes the child to believe the same as their parents (which is
usually the case) or it causes the child to believe the opposite, typically once they get
older and fully understand the premise of bias. This can be a less severe form of the
fight-or-flight response. Fight-or-flight is generally used to describe roles of survival,
but in this case, it can be comparative to fighting the bias or going with the parents
views.
Another popular mode of bias is culture. As Boundless Psychology explains:
Our perceptions, or how we interpret the world, are affected by a number
of things, including our biases, our motivations, and especially our
emotions. All of these things are rooted in culture. Emotions are universal
phenomena - people all over the world feel things. However, our
perceptions of our emotions are affected by culture. While some emotions
are universal and are experienced in similar ways as a reaction to similar
events across all cultures, other emotions show considerable cultural
differences in their antecedent events, the way they are experienced, the
reactions they provoke and the way they are perceived by the surrounding
society. Therefore, culture is a necessary framework for researchers to
understand variations in perceptions and emotions. (Boundless)

While Boundless discusses emotions more-so than bias, the two are very
closely-linked. They are quite self-reliant even though people do not tend to notice this.

Works Cited

"Bias." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.


Boundless. Cultural Influences on Perception. Boundless Psychology. Boundless, 6
Oct. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.

Canuso, Carla M., and Gahan Pandina. "Gender and Schizophrenia."


Psychopharmacology Bulletin. Research Gate. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.

Caplan, Bryan. "Seven Hypotheses About Environmental Bias." Library of Economics


and Liberty. Liberty Fund, Inc., 2 Dec. 2005. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

Cherry, Kendra. "The Age Old Debate of Nature Versus Nurture." About Psychology.
About.com. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.

National Institute of Mental Health. "What Is Schizophrenia?" National Institute of Mental


Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.

University of Cambridge. "Males and Females Differ in Specific Brain Structures."


University of Cambridge. 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.