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Biases in the workplace

Biases in the workplace

All of us, whether we want to or not, carry biases with us into the workplace based upon the environment we grew up in, our education, our life experiences and our values.

Most importantly, it is a matter of how we deal with these biases by understanding what they are, how they are formed and how we deal with these on a day to day basis to understand why we make / support certain decisions in the workplace.

How are biases formed?

Psychological scholars posit that biases are evolutionary adaptions. Mental shortcuts that reduce cognitive processing and free up the mind to complete other tasks. They typically lead to fast paced judgments that are made priority, in order to maintain basic survival. Though some seem irrational at times and cannot even be explained rationally, they have often been passed down through our genetics as a form of adaption.

Some types of bias include:

  • Belief perseverance: once a belief is formed and a rationale has been developed it is very difficult to demolish it (Ross and Anderson 1982).
  • Confirmative Bias: the tendency to seek information that supports our beliefs while ignoring information that does not.
  • Illusion of control: for example – lotto!
  • Heuristics: mental shortcuts we all take to reduce complex judgements

What we can to do increase our self awareness around our biases?

  1. Recognise that we carry biases
  2. Define what these are
  3. Obtain all the facts before jumping to a conclusion regarding an individual or a matter and
  4. as the old saying goes don’t judge a book by its cover!






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