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Deliberate Bias

Deliberate Bias

Author: Sophia Tutorial

This lesson will explain deliberate bias.

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What's Covered

This tutorial will demonstrate was deliberate bias is by covering the following topic:

  1. Deliberate Bias
  2. Unintentional Bias


Deliberate bias is exactly what it sounds like: it's bias that's done on purpose.

While deliberate bias doesn’t happen very often, it can occur when there's a conflict of interest between the people performing research and the people funding (who are usually the ones benefiting) from that research.

Typically deliberate bias is motivated by an interest unrelated to the integrity of whatever you’re researching. Most research is done with integrity, but when personal prestige, advancement of some ideology, or money get in the way, it’s harder to prove that intentions are pure.

Politics can be industry ripe for deliberate bias. Perhaps people call with a poll, but the survey includes a leading question in order to cause the person to responded in a certain way. When this is done it's called “push polling” and it’s highly suspect.


This can happen in other areas too, even the medical field. A leading question might look like this:
“If drug A was linked to cancer, would you be more likely to choose B, less likely to choose B, or equally likely to choose B?”

The Company for Drug B posed the question, obviously, so drug B would likely be chosen.

But there’s more.... they've put a thought into the participant’s head that drug A is linked to cancer.

Did they ever explicitly say that? No, they said if it was linked to cancer. But now they've placed the association in the participant's mind.

Subconsciously they're beginning to steer consumers away from drug A and towards drug B.

Example If a drug company funds a study to determine if it's latest drug is effective, the researchers stand to gain a lot of money and prestige for having tested the drug if proven effective. For this reason, they might not be the best choice to test the drug.


An environmental research group is hired by a real estate developer to investigate the effects of a new building.

If the results are favorable, they might get another contract with that real estate developer. If the environmental research group doesn’t come through with a favorable interpretation, another group will, and that group will get the next contract.

The environmental research group wants to be hired by the developer on another project, so there's a conflict of interest.

Term to Know

    • Deliberate Bias
    • The purposeful misrepresentation of data for the purpose of advancing an agenda.


Unintentional bias occurs when there is simply an error in the design of the study. Two types of unintentional bias include:

  • Response bias involved the the wording of questions or people feeling like they have to lie.
  • Selection bias: involves how the sample was selected. Perhaps where people were not included in the selection process, even though they make up a portion of the population.

Both are simply errors with no hidden agenda. They're not intentional and not meant to purposely steer the direction of the respondent’s.

Term to Know

    • Unintentional Bias
    • Bias that is not purposeful. It exists because of errors in the design of the study.


Most of the time, deliberate bias is not something of concern. Sometimes, however, people with personal interests, like the advancement of an ideology or financial gain, steer results towards outcomes that are favorable to them.

Most of the time research is done with integrity. And when bias does occur it was on accident, which is call unintentional bias. Two types of unintentional bias are selection bias and response bias.

Good luck!

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author jonathan osters.

Terms to Know
Deliberate Bias

The purposeful misrepresentation of data for the purpose of advancing an agenda.

Unintentional Bias

Bias that is not purposeful. It exists because of errors in the design of the study.