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Majority of Americans react to an article after only reading the headline

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Americans who are looking to tap into their inner humanitarian think that bias should have no place when giving others a helping hand.

The survey of 2,005 adults examined how conscious and unconscious biases may affect their behavior in all aspects of life, from the media they consume to the charities they support.

More than half (54%) noted that they wish they were more exposed to information to help them overcome biases.

For example, eight in 10 people confessed they’ve reacted to an online article solely based on its headline. But most respondents (89%) disagreed with their initial reaction after reading the entire story.

Others admitted their unconscious bias sets in when trying something different outside their comfort zone (62%) or walking into a store after judging its window display (60%).

Conducted by OnePoll in partnership with Zakat Foundation of America, a U.S.-based humanitarian organization, the study also looked at how people view themselves compared to their peers.

Nearly six in 10 of all respondents (57%) said they’re used to being the only person from their racial or ethnic background in a given room.

Eighty-nine percent of Asians or Pacific Islanders (total 117 respondents) echoed that sentiment the most, followed by 65% of Black or African Americans (total 396 respondents) and half of white respondents.

When asked if they're familiar with other types of biases, most said they're aware of gender bias (58%) and racism (51%). However, 40% admitted they're unknowledgeable about religious prejudice.

And when selecting which charities to support, the Zakat Foundation of America points out that people can act biased without realizing, even when helping children in need.

“In our orphan sponsorship program, we noticed girls getting sponsored faster than boys, younger children faster than teenagers, and lighter-skinned children faster than darker-skinned children,” said Amna Mirza, Zakat Foundation’s chief marketing officer.

“Based on these findings, we moved away from using photos to select an orphan to sponsor, urging donors to support children based on need, not biases toward familiarity.”

Interestingly, Black respondents were most likely to attribute their open-mindedness to having worked in different industries (61%), while white and Asian/Pacific Islander respondents cited their experiences meeting new people (59%).

Despite that, only one in four people (25%) think their core group of friends represents various races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.

White respondents were almost twice as likely as Black respondents (21% vs. 13%) to report having “completely homogenous” friend groups.

Meanwhile, a third of those surveyed admitted that their workplace is “completely homogeneous,” making it the area least likely to exhibit diversity in most respondents’ lives.

The data further suggests that people consider several factors before supporting a charity.

Nearly half of respondents (48%) said understanding an organization's mission and having a closeness to where they live (40%) would most likely motivate them to donate to their cause.

“Many people feel that they can’t be prejudiced because they believe in tolerance or logical thinking, but they can still act on biases without even realizing it,” Mirza added. “As a Muslim-run organization, we're trying to educate others that there is no room for bias — conscious or unconscious — when offering help.”


  • Emergency relief for victims of natural disaster and violent conflict - 52%
  • Food security - 50%
  • Providing clean water to communities with limited access - 44%
  • Health and wellbeing - 42%
  • Providing education in underserved areas of the world - 42%
  • Orphan care - 36%
  • Refugee empowerment - 35%
  • Seasonal giving - 27%
  • Poverty alleviation - 24%

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