Concept of Implicit Bias & Explicit Bias in Real Estate in California

In the complex landscape of human behavior, our everyday choices are shaped by multiple reasons. Why do we do certain things and avoid others? This process, while sometimes logical and informed, can also be influenced by implicit bias, a powerful element in our decisions that affects real estate and beyond.

The Enigma of Implicit Bias

Implicit bias is an inclination, either for or against something, that becomes an ingrained preference that influences our judgments and actions. Making decisions based on implicit bias is often a subconscious, automatic, and involuntary act. For example, a person might feel an implicit bias against the color green for an unknown reason, leading them to avoid anything related to that color. Sometimes, the causes behind these biases lack apparent logic and the person may not even be aware of their behavior.

Let's delve into Implicit Bias and its Influence on Decisions

Let's start with a basic definition. The Perception Institute defines implicit bias as the subconscious attitudes or beliefs we have toward people, including stereotypes we associate without even being aware of them.

Below, we will explore some essential characteristics of implicit bias:

Universality of Implicit Bias: Virtually all people have some type of implicit bias. It is inherent to our human nature. Although we might believe that we are unprejudiced and impartial toward new people, places, and things, in reality we all have certain biases that give us preferences, either for or against others, based on different reasons.

Unawareness of Implicit Bias: This type of bias usually manifests itself subconsciously and outside of our awareness. It is an impulsive reaction, a natural inclination that occurs without even thinking about it.

Speed of Implicit Bias: Acts quickly, automatically and reactively, like grabbing the handrail of a staircase after tripping. It doesn't require deep thought.

Influence of Affiliations: Implicit bias leads us to favor people we consider part of our “group,” those who share similarities in terms of appearance, language, culture, clothing, perceived intelligence, among others. In contrast, we tend to feel uncomfortable around those we consider different.

Roots in Upbringing and Experiences: Our Implicit Bias They are influenced by our upbringing and experiences. We grow up surrounded by people and our brain develops positive and negative associations based on our experiences, both during childhood and as adults.

Impact on Opportunities and Decisions: Implicit biases can create significant barriers in life. If we have an implicit bias toward certain people because of their appearance or style, this limits the potential for mutual growth. For example, if we decide not to hire someone because of their hairstyle due to implicit bias, we could be missing out on having a valuable employee in our company.

Demystifying Personal Identity

Personal identity is complex, but it is summarized in the question: what defines me? By answering this question, we can discover our own biases, life experiences, and what makes us unique. In addition, we can find similarities with unknown people, enriching our identity. By connecting with different types of people, we broaden our perspective.

The Implicit Association Test (IAT)

The IAT measures how we make associations between people (e.g., black people, rich people) and possible evaluations (happy, bad) or stereotypes (athletic, moody). The goal is to demonstrate that we tend to group our positive or negative associations for a group of people more than we think, without observing individualities.

In this test, you must associate words to left or right categories on the screen, pressing a key as appropriate.

The Influence of Implicit Bias on Our Actions

Implicit Bias impacts our actions through assumptions, shortcuts, and instinctive reactions. An example is how we greet someone based on their appearance when they walk in the door. If someone is unfamiliar to us, what instincts do we feel and avoid them?

In short, understanding and addressing implicit bias is essential to making fair and equitable decisions. We must be willing to analyze whether these biases are useful or limiting, listen and learn from others as unique individuals. This will allow us to overcome internal prejudices and build more authentic connections.

The Concept of Explicit Bias in Real Estate

In the vast world of human behavior, our choices are often influenced by a phenomenon called explicit bias. In this lesson, we'll delve into the concept of explicit bias, explore its identification, and learn how to avoid it.

Deciphering the Term

The word “explicit” refers to something that is clear, direct and evident. There is no room to misinterpret the meaning of an explicit statement. For its part, “bias” is a prejudice in favor of or against a person or group, generally due to distinctive characteristics such as gender or ethnicity.

Putting these definitions together, we understand that explicit bias is clear or obvious prejudiced behavior. The Perception Institute defines it as “the attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group at a conscious level.”

With this definition in mind, let's explore the characteristics that will help us identify explicit bias. Knowing these characteristics will allow us to recognize when someone shows explicit bias.

Defining Characteristics of Explicit Bias

Deliberate and Controllable: Explicit bias is intentional. In other words, people choose to make offensive statements or harass members of other groups. A clear example is the use of racial stereotypes or insults in reference to an individual or group. A real-life example is the use of a racist stereotype at an insurance agency in Maine.

Explicit Bias Example: On Juneteenth in 2022, the agency posted a sign on their door stating that they were closed. Unfortunately, they added: “Enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens.”

This is a well-known racist stereotype that has been used for over a century. This was not an accidental or inadvertent offense. Agency employees made a conscious decision to use hurtful and disruptive language on their sign.

Exclusion and Control of Explicit Bias: Not all explicit bias is so obvious. Imagine the following hypothetical scenario. A group of coworkers meets for dinner every Friday. A woman of a different religion joined the team. Her coworkers disapprove of her religion, so they avoid discussing their weekly dinners in front of her and lie when she asks about their weekend plans.

Identifying Exclusion: Team behavior is a type of explicit bias called exclusion. Although they are not insulting their partner, they are deliberately alienating her due to prejudice.

The key here is that explicit bias can be controlled. The team could have included their partner in their dinners or been honest in their answers.

Influence of Social Norms and Legal Aspects of Explicit Bias

Social Norms and Explicit Bias: Another important characteristic of explicit bias is that it is affected by social norms. People may hide their bias in situations where it would not be socially acceptable. To reduce explicit bias, it is essential to consistently establish social norms that do not allow prejudice.

Legal Aspects of Explicit Bias: In some cases, explicit bias is illegal. In the United States, it is illegal to discriminate against people based on categories such as race, religion, sexual orientation, age, and disability.

Examples of Employment Discrimination: Julia applied for a job at a real estate agency as an assistant. During the interview, he was asked if he would need time off in the near future. She mentioned that she was six months pregnant and would need time after delivery. The company decided not to hire Julia due to her pregnancy. Although Julia did not yet work for this company, discriminating against her because of her pregnancy is illegal.

Example of Hate Crime: Imagine that an employee at your company reveals that they are transgender. One day, after everyone has left, a coworker breaks, steals, and writes derogatory language on the employee's equipment and personal belongings. This is a hate crime that can be prosecuted criminally.

Reducing Explicit Bias

Steps to Reduce Explicit Bias:

  • Speak with respect and care.
  • Report harassment or discrimination.
  • Avoid stereotypes and offensive language, even in the form of jokes.
  • Broaden your exposure to people outside your group.
  • Offers support to people experiencing bias.
  • While these steps will not completely eliminate explicit bias, they will help create a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone.


Controllable and Based on Identifiable Traits: In short, explicit bias is a conscious attitude or belief based on an identifiable trait, such as race, sexual orientation, or religion. Since explicit bias is conscious, its expression is a deliberate choice, meaning it can be controlled. Furthermore, it is influenced by social norms, so people can express it only when they feel it is socially acceptable.

Illegal Forms of Explicit Bias: We discussed that an illegal form of explicit bias is discrimination, such as refusing to hire a new employee because of their gender or age. Certain forms of hate speech and all forms of hate crimes are also illegal.

Reducing Explicit Bias: Although explicit bias is common, it is not acceptable. To reduce it, it is essential to understand that all people deserve respect and equal treatment, regardless of their origin. Reflect on your own bias and consider whether you can take steps to improve your behavior or that of others.

Legal and Tax Disclaimer

Please be advised that the content presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The articles and information provided here are written from the perspective of a real estate agent affiliated with Keller Williams, and do not represent legal or tax counsel.

As the author, I am a licensed real estate professional under Keller Williams, holding Brokerage DRE License Number: #02197031. However, it is important to note that my expertise is in the field of real estate, and not in legal or tax matters. The insights and opinions shared on this blog are based on my experiences and knowledge in the real estate industry and should be treated as general guidance rather than definitive legal or tax advice.

For specific legal or tax concerns relating to any real estate transactions or investments, readers are strongly encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances and the latest legal and regulatory requirements.

The information on this blog is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, and I, along with Keller Williams and its affiliates, disclaim all liability for any loss, damage, or misunderstanding arising from reliance on the information contained herein.

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