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Implicit Bias and Stereotyping in Medicine

Faculty Development event

Katherine Puddifoot is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Durham University. Her research focuses on stereotyping, implicit bias, memories biases and epistemic injustice.

Event details


Psychological studies suggest that even well-intentioned individuals who are explicitly egalitarian often unwittingly make associations between members of certain social groups (e.g. racial, class, religious) and particular characteristics or feelings. In other words, they can harbour implicit biases. This fact carries over into medicine where even healthcare workers who are explicitly aiming to treat all patients equally can associate patients with characteristics or feelings due to their social identity. This talk focuses on how this propensity impacts judgement and decision making. I will argue that making associations of this type can both facilitate correct judgement and decision making and lead to serious errors. It can be extremely bad from an ethical perspective, leading to unfair treatment, but also bring ethical benefits, when it leads to correct treatment decisions being made. I argue, then, that there is a significant issue that should be kept in mind when approaching medical practice: how, in any context, can we ensure that implicit biases are only influencing our judgements when they both help correct judgements to be made and ensure an ethical outcome is achieved.

She is interested in how psychological and social phenomena impact people’s ability to gain knowledge and understanding. She has written numerous articles on these topics and has recently published a book called How Stereotypes Deceive Us with Oxford University Press. Prior to working in Durham she was a research fellow on Project PERFECT at the University of Birmingham and gained her PhD in Philosophy from University of Sheffield.

On Zoom

Meeting ID: 973 5542 2862
Password: 414268