Can suddenly realizing how your own prejudices affect your judgment in problem solving help you address your internalized biases? Closed Circuit engineers an “aha” moment in which players must confront their own gender bias to win.
The player is given maps of the building, and 4 minutes of security camera footage from the building. To solve the puzzle, the player must come to the realization that one of the scientists, who they had assumed was a man, was in fact a woman.
Studies on the game found that high school students who played the game were significantly less likely to misgender scientist characters as men (compared to the students who played a control condition of the game). Interestingly, however, the students who played the game reported less positive views of women in science. In other words, being confronted with their own biases made the students act more carefully to counteract their implicit biases (by not misgendering the characters in the game), but caused the students to say that they were less open to women in science, possibly due to feeling defensive after playing. In addition, college students who played the game misgendered the scientists more than the high school students, and did not see any improvement after playing the game.
Read the research paper here.
By forcing students to confront their own biases through an “Aha” moment, Closed Circuit was able to get them to double check their assumptions about scientists and gender. Educators can use this strategy to decrease students’ implicit biases—but they should be aware that confronting one’s own biases is never easy, and students may feel defensive immediately after the intervention. Additionally, the research suggests that some societal biases may be too entrenched to change by the time students enter college.