Bias, Personal bias

It is an expression of our humanity to have personal biases. Everyone out there has ingrained in their subconscious mind their view of how the world around them operates, and most times, they tend to see people and every circumstance through that lens. 


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One of the characteristics of biases is the fact that they are not originally ours. Our biases usually stem from the people around us, what we hear them say or do. And most of the time, it has a lot to do with people who we highly regard and cherish.





Psychologically, personal biases stem from stereotypes. A “stereotype” is a cognitive shortcut— that is, it allows one’s brain to make a snap judgment based on immediately visible characteristics such as body physique, gender, race, or age to keep the victim imprisoned in their mind and never able to know what it means to think and act in the “right way.”



Personal Bias and the Human Brain

The human brain is hardwired to send quick signals, and that’s okay. At least it helps us to position ourselves so that we can adapt and respond better to the harshness of our environment. The problem comes when we start to apply those quick signals or stereotypes beyond that immediate impulse. 





And this is where “bias” sets in, which is a belief that a stereotype is true. In other words, whatsoever your brain tells you at the very first sight is the absolute truth and nothing but the truth; hence, there is no need for further investigation and critical thinking.


This is how civilization has functioned for thousands of years, and it is a weak culture that is inherent in society and passed down from one generation to another generation.


The truth remains that when we have personal biases as a result of the influence or opinion of others, our judgments often falls short of what the actual result should be. And when these biases have consolidated in our brains, we will often depend on them to pass judgments even when we have hard evidence staring at us in the face. As such, cognitive bias can also be referred to as the propensity to make irrational decisions and judgments at the expense of logic – frequently in a consistent manner.  


Our mental architecture is the primary reason why we cannot easily differentiate between fiction and hard fact. This explains why we tend to jump at a horror movie even when it makes no sense for us to watch it because we had a friend recommend it to us. 


You’re programmed that way. You wouldn’t want that fight or flight response turned off. It would be deadly to have it turned off from an evolutionary standpoint. But, you should be able to distinguish between the facts from the reality that stems from the opinion of others. Don’t be a sucker and be fooled. It’s still a cognitive bias that a whole lot of us succumb to. 



Emotions and Judging Others

Emotions are the primary motivation behind why we act the way we do. Because our emotions have been built over time by the way we interact with the world and people around us, they tend to impact our learning, attention, regulatory variable, memory, social interactions, and goal priorities. Tracing the evolutionary tree of our personal biases, it is often associated with an emotional linkage we have with the people around us.


There are four basic emotions; happiness, fear, anger, and disgust. As humans, we do not have a consolidated view of why we have an experience of these emotions without including the direct or indirect opinion of people in our lives. 


Modern neuroscience has an answer to what behavioral scientists have been struggling to understand for ages. Human judgment and decision are somewhat complex, and most people never get it right when it comes to making the right decisions. 


Certain credible studies have shown some hitherto obscure processes that happen in the human brain during the process of making decisions. What a person holds as an ideal has a great influence on the results of the decisions that he or she is going to make.


Having full knowledge of this process of decision making at the level of cognitive activity will help one to engage in critical thinking. And critical thinking will help one in making the right decisions. 


You will likely meet circumstances where you are confident that you have an understanding of, only to discover that the actual truth is the absolute reverse of what you earlier thought. 


There is sometimes a mismatch between what we believe ought to be and what truly is in terms of how we perceive our immediate and distant environment and the folks we come in contact with. Such disconnection from reality is typically the result of a subconscious prejudice or a bias that we experience even without knowing it. 


We have basic patterns in the way we interpret knowledge and create a sense that causes the incongruity between our expectations and the truth. 


There are several forms of cognitive bias, but as we evolve in an understanding of society, there are two simple types of cognitive biases that consistently occur.


A) Confirmation Bias: 

When we attempt to read meaning to our immediate environment, we may subliminally lend credibility to evidence that supports our pre-existing perceptions, and erase the facts that would compel us to rethink those notions. 


The recent effect is a typical instance of confirmation bias. These effects explain our propensity to lend credibility to information that we just came in contact with, irrespective of whether it may be true or not because what we already “knew” informed our decision.


Confirmation bias, for instance, may occur in the office as you decide your organization’s future course. Recent headlines in the media could perhaps persuade you that your company can support a certain population even though this support would be a unique deviation from your normal activities. 


When you start outlining a plan for your new service line, you are actively paying more attention to and integrating evidence that is in line with your plan – a clear contradiction to evidence that will persuade you to continue the route you are on.


Although it is sometimes paramount to take chances and acknowledge some level of skepticism when preparing a new initiative or operation, having a confirmation bias may make it more difficult for us to recognize such risks critically and to evaluate them.


Pause for a moment and focus on the idea from an observer’s viewpoint to decrease the influence of confirmation bias, and endeavor that the new innovative ideas are genuinely rational and achievable. 


If you have no idea of the proposed plan and you try reading it, how will your reaction be? You can uncover some of the threats or obstacles that confirmation bias has covered up.



B) False Consensus Effect: 

We vastly underrate the degree to which other individuals think and act as we do. This perception error can subconsciously lead us to assume that other people like our decisions and actions — even if they don’t. Because people prefer to interact with those of similar views and beliefs, we also believe other people perceive realities as we do.


False consensus effect comes alive at the workplace in a lot of instances. As the director of your company, for instance, you may be persuaded that a recent organizational plan is the best path to take and that the committee would fully endorse the initiatives. 


If you discuss your intentions with them, you may notice that the panel maintains a fully opposite stance. Failure to foresee a different viewpoint or resolve the opposing perspectives can result in a stalemate, which will hinder your company from forging ahead. 


When we look more carefully at personality traits, several common prejudices lead to problems. Frequently, errors happen when we attempt to evaluate our insight and the insight of others concerning the result of the appropriate application. When we want to assign strength or weakness to specific choices or actions, two main prejudices come into the picture:


a) Self-serving bias: 

Once it has to do with assessing our own choices and actions, we prefer to assign progress to our personal qualities and fault environmental factors for our failures. 


For instance, if a sponsor contributes significantly to your company, you are likely to assign the credit to yourself due to the fact your communication skills assisted in nurturing the connection that made the financial assistance feasible. 


On the flip side, if a prospective contributor fails to fulfill the desired commitment, you are quick to attribute an external influence such as the market for affecting the contributor’s choice as contrasted to something missing from your professional skills and experience.


b) Fundamental attribution error: 

Contrarily, as we analyze the effects of other people’s behavior, we place more importance on influences that we apply to their individual qualities as compared to environmental factors that influence them.


One illustration is the belief that a participant is incompetent because she delayed appointments when the real problem of her misbehavior was that she didn’t get the meeting notice early. Likewise, if the scheme of a director does not deliver the expected effect, the original impression of a coworker may be that the manager lacks managerial skills. 


The coworker may come to terms with the fact that s/he wrongly passed criticism when s/he discovers that there is insufficient resource assist for the project.


Be it a result of incorrectness in our outlook on the world we live in or a more precise bias in how we assess data and attitudes, and there are measures that non-profit leaders need to take to help them minimize detrimental impacts. 


1) The first thing to do is to acknowledge the presence of such prejudices and how they affect our behaviors and choices. 


2) The very next move is to promote consciousness of the individual values, opinions, and beliefs that you possess. Self-awareness is key to the growth of a compassionate disposition to communicating with others. 


3) Lastly, enhanced interaction and collaboration with your peers can help mitigate the likelihood of misconstruing their motives and resulting attitudes.


Working to identify and minimize the effects of perception bias can help you generate a more accurate picture of the world and the people around you. Ultimately this helps improve your communication and decision-making with others. 


Below are the consequences of having personal biases based on other’s people opinions:


A) Speech Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis of speech is one of the most obvious consequences of having a personal bias. Culturally, we have learned that people who can’t speak our language have some sort of speech disability even when they can speak theirs fluently. 


In some educational settings, some children are mandated to observe some form of special education as the country where they immigrated to do not have the same lingua franca as theirs. Some of them may be wrongly labeled as having a language disability even when they don’t. 



B) Personal Bias Affects Decision Making

Society is filled with people with lots of confirmation biases. Because we judge things differently as a result of the lens through which we see the world, our decision-making process can be adversely affected. This is a very common instance for most people.



C) Bias in Medicine

Although almost everyone is affected by personal bias, its effects are particularly important in medicine. Since most doctors in European and American countries are male and white, the implicit prejudices these physicians may have towards patients who are neither male nor white can result in poor medical care and, on a bigger scale, exacerbate health result inequalities. 


A reportage discovered evidence that “Health care providers’ uncertainty, biases, and stereotyping can all lead to unfair treatment.


In diagnosis, with its adverse side effects and cost, the effect can be high non-adherence levels or, at times, complete termination of treatment which can, in essence, form the medical choices of physicians. 



D) Personal Workplace Bias and Trust

Personal bias also restricts team leaders from actually being open to other people’s thoughts and viewpoints. This happens when we make random decisions about individuals or circumstances based on our past interactions, history, or context.


If for instance, you’re sitting in a briefing when the team’s newest addition has a novel concept to address a recent issue from customers. But she’s just a twenty-year-old who happened to come from the retail sector, a long way from product design. 


You speak to yourself as she is voicing her idea with passion, “She is certainly inexperienced. She believes she can fix this sophisticated analytical customer problem because she helped check out customers at a bridal boutique. How did she manage to get on this group? This is bias in the investigation.



E) Bias in Investigation Research   

Bias can affect study if the investigator decides to accept his bias to influence or misinterpret the observations and measurements.  



F) Bias in Recruitment Processes

Prospective employers prefer to opt for candidates who have been educated where they have been educated or once employed by a company they trust. If you don’t have the right experience, you could be fighting a losing battle against the next person to win the position, even if you’re objectively superior. 


Imagine this instance: assume you’re a Harvard University student and, therefore, naturally assume Harvard alumni are smarter. You are in charge of hiring out a role and scheduling final appointments. Of the two final applicants, you listed: one schooled at Harvard, while the other went to a less rated school. 


But thankfully, you know your prejudice and note that you aim to make the right hiring decision entirely dependent on credentials. To prevent your interests concerning academic history from affecting your choice, cautiously review the credentials of both applicants, Write down the realistic explanations of why one applicant is more eligible than the other applicant. In that way, you will be making choices that are devoid of personal bias.




When you make choices and act based on your assumptions, there is a possibility that such implicit prejudices will have a detrimental impact on your judgment. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to mitigate your personal bias.


By being conscious of your prejudices, by pursuing critical thinking and by treating each person with dignity, in any setting, you will grow outside of your biases and interact with everyone positively and fruitfully.


We all evaluate people on our limited lenses despite our best endeavors. It could be about little stuff, like a colleague who took a coffee break for too long. Or it may be about bigger things, like a person who acts egoistically or harm our emotions.


Judging people does not determine their real personality, but it has a lot to say about who you are. When you become too judgmental, there can be some repercussions on your mental and physical health, your emotions, and your thought processes.  


Anguish, anxiety, and anger are factors that can help raise our blood pressure and even cardiovascular problems if they are not checkmated. Hence, passing judgments on other people when it is not necessary is the surest way of living a life that lacks peace and joy. 


Judging people is not right, but if you must have an opinion about a person or their business, then do so with facts. 

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