Exploring bias: Unconscious bias

Biases are helpful in some ways but also have the power to exclude people – and sometimes unconsciously.

In our new explainer blog, we explore what bias is, the different types of biases that can occur in the workplace and how it could lead us misinterpret situations.

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Exploring bias: Unconscious bias

So, what is bias? According to the Oxford dictionary, bias is a ‘strong feeling in favour of or against one group of people or side of argument, often not based on fair judgement’. As humans, bias at times can be beneficial. For example, if we have a difficult dilemma, a preconceived bias can sometimes help us decide quicker. Think of it as a ‘mental shortcut’ as Charlotte Ruhl from ‘Simply Psychology’ puts it. 

According to Dr A.K Pradeep, founder and CEO of ‘Neurofocus’, humans receive on average 11 million pieces of information per second. Heuristics (mental shortcuts) help to make decision-making a bit easier for us. However, these shortcuts can sometimes lead to unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is when we make subconscious errors, leading us misinterpret situations and make inaccurate decisions. These can be particularly harmful, especially when we only pay attention to information that conforms to our pre-existing beliefs and we discount everything else. 

Unconscious bias in real life context 

An unconscious bias may make us buy a less tasty meal, because we assumed the most expensive one was the best quality. It can also have the power to exclude people for example, making assumptions about them before getting to know them. And as humans prone to error, we can often carry these negative unconscious biases into everyday interactions, like those in the workplace. Have you ever been underestimated by colleagues or a manager, and after you proved them wrong, they admit they expected less from you? This is an example of unconscious bias in the workplace. These biases could exist for a multitude of reasons, ranging from pre-conditioned beliefs about race or gender to previous experience or your personality type. 

By exploring bias, we can identify and recognise our own unconscious biases with a curious and more open mind. With our Exploring Bias tool, learners can enjoy a self-reflection exercise and scenario-based activity that helps them spot types of bias in everyday work situations. 

The Exploring Bias micro learning can be integrated with your LMS or LXP and be: 

  • Used for companies of any size
  • Engage employees of all levels of seniority
  • Form part of your DEI toolkit

For more information, click here to visit to our Exploring bias micro learning…