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Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping. Unconscious bias often leads to discrimination, be it deliberate or unintentional.

Unconscious bias is different from cognitive biases. Cognitive biases relate to our brains' particular wiring, while unconscious bias refers to perceptions between different groups and are specific to different societies.

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Cognitive Bias

Cognitive Bias is a predictable pattern of mental errors where we misperceive reality and move away from the most likely way of reaching our goals.

These mental blind spots impact all areas of life. Cognitive biases have to do with judgment, not mood.

  • Recognise that the unconscious bias is a systemic issue. Internal cultures need to be checked and addressed first.
  • There is no shame or guilt in unconscious bias. Unconscious bias stems from our tendency to categorise people into social groups and often doesn't match our conscious values.
  • It takes a series of conversations and interventions to prevent and protect against unconscious bias.

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  • When you are giving a public talk, you assume that your nervousness is more apparent to others than is actually the case.
  • You overestimate the amount of work that you contributed to a group project.
  • You might believe that your colleagues all share your political beliefs and social values.
  • You might remember yourself as having been the key player in a past event, despite the fact that you only played a relatively minor role in it.

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We make decisions based on the information that we have. However, we tend to be more reliant on the negative more than the positive. This causes two outcomes:

  1. Risk aversion – where we prefer an assured outcome over a gamble with a higher expected outcome; and

  2. Loss aversion – where we tend to shy away from losses in comparison to the acquirement of tantamount gains.

People with negativity bias are less likely to be motivated and have clouded judgement.

They pop up to do mischief, even when you're not conscious of it.

We can learn to recognize bias in ourselves and reduce the harmful impact of that part of ourselves by applying acceptance and commitment therapy. It focuses on developing psychological flexibility. When we investigate our implicit biases, we become more aware of them and can bring our actions in line with our conscious beliefs.