Critical Response Lesson 2: Identifying Tastes and Biases

What is the Difference Between a Taste and a Bias?
Director of Education and Interpretation Tresa Varner teaching about tastes and biases

By setting ground rules for discussion and using a warm-up word association list, students explore the difference between taste and bias in this lesson. After learning about tastes and biases related to their lives, they then turn their newly honed skills to observing and commenting on art.

Grade Levels: 6-12 

Suggested Time Frame:

Discussion: 10 minutes
Establish Ground Rules: 10 minutes
Word Association: 30 minutes
Music and Art Tastes and Biases: 1-2 hours (less if assigned as homework)
Discussion of Webs: 20 minutes

Total time frame: 3-5 class periods over one week span 


  • Students will discuss and define personal tastes and biases
  • Students will create brainstorming webs
  • Students will categorize tastes and biases
Tastes and biases often play a role in our perceptions of art
Tastes and biases often play a role in our perceptions of art

Discussion: What is the Difference Between a Taste and a Bias?

  1. Define what taste and bias mean.
  2. Discuss the similarities and differences between tastes and biases.
  3. Bias (n.) 1. A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment. 2. An unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice.

    Taste (n.) A personal preference or liking.

  4. Establish ground rules to build a safe environment for discussion. Use the handout Ground Rules for Taste and Bias Discussion.  
Brainstorming web detail onfrom handouts for this lesson
Brainstorming web detail onfrom handouts for this lesson

Materials and Handouts:

The following handouts are included in the Lesson PDF

Ground Rules for Taste and Bias Discussion 
Musical Tastes and Biases  
Art Tastes and Biases 
Visual Images, printed out or digitally displayed: Warhol’s Brillo Boxes and art of choice
Andy Warhol, Brillo Soap Pads Box, 1964, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, Brillo Soap Pads Box, 1964, ©AWF

Warm-up Word Association:

  1. Create a list of words and phrases ahead of class time. Please keep students’ interests in mind as you create your list. We suggest using words from different categories such as:
  2. Foods: broccoli, ice cream

    Hairstyles: ponytails, dreadlocks

    Accessories: Gucci purse, high-tops

    Cars: SUV, Ford Focus, Mustang

    Phrases like: someone wearing all black, someone wearing all white, etc.

  3. Explain to students they should list the first things that come to mind as they hear each word. Call out the list of words you created quickly.
  4. Students share their responses and discuss the reasons why they made their associations.
  5. Students determine whether their associations are personal tastes or biases.

Brainstorming Webs:

  1. Use the Musical Tastes and Biases Handout to identify, list and clarify students’ thoughts. In this step, students identify what they like and dislike, how they judge music to be good and bad and why they have certain opinions. Students should choose two musicians or bands—one that they like and one that they dislike—and then make a Brainstorming Web for each. Instruct them to write out all of the things they know about the music—their likes, dislikes and assumptions.
  2. Students present their webs and explain their answers. Encourage them to explain ideas more fully when their answers are unclear.
  3. Students examine their webs and pick out which statements are tastes and which are biases, creating two lists on page three of the handout (see student music and art tastes and biases lists).
  4. Use the Art Tastes and Biases Handout to repeat the Brainstorming Web activity from above for two visual artworks. Use Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes and another visual piece of your choice.
  5. Students present their visual art webs and discuss individual ideas.
  6. Students use the webs to create individual lists of art tastes and biases on the third page of the handout. It may be useful for them to keep this list and refer to it throughout the rest of the unit.
  7. Discuss the similarities and differences between personal tastes and biases.
  8. Disuss how tastes and biases might affect a critic’s response.

Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Critical Thinking