The police take you into custody. Maybe it’s a traffic stop. Maybe they stop you on the street. However it happens, you do not feel like it’s a fair arrest. You think that the officers stereotyped you when they picked you up. Does it happen?

It certainly does, according to some psychologists. How can they be so sure? Because they claim that everyone uses stereotypes in their lives. Everyone. From the middle school teacher to the dentist to the police officer. And if it’s that widespread, you know that it happens during arrests.

Part of the issue here is that studies have found many people are biased on a subconscious or unconscious level. If you asked them if they were biased against people of a certain age or race or religion, for instance, they would assure you that they were not. They would probably even believe it. But, if you looked at the way that they thought and acted, it would tell you how they really felt on a deeper level — perhaps even too deep for them to understand on their own.

Does this excuse bias? Of course not. While you could argue that an unconscious bias means that at least a person is trying not to be biassed, and that’s to their credit, it can still result in the same outcome. In your case, it could be an unfair or even illegal arrest. That’s a problem.

If this happens to you, be sure you are well aware of your legal defense options and all of the rights that you have.