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Unconscious Bias: How It Affects Us



The world is so complex that every decision we make goes through a funnel of our cognitive biases. Without much thinking and knowing, these unconscious biases creep in and influence our lives. 

 

In an attempt to simplify how we perceive things, we go through our values wrapped around by made-up stereotypes. In one way, they allow us to decide quickly. In another, they make our decisions partly illogical.

 

I once read a story about a woman working in a car company. Her superior knows how capable she is but she always takes longer than them to process car inquiries. He had to find out why.

 

He decided to take over the emails that she receives and found how rudely others talk to her. She wasn’t taking longer because she knows less. It’s because people take her less seriously and she has to explain herself more. 

 

When the superior emailed back using his actual name, people apologized and accepted his explanations faster. 

 

You may not know it but subconscious biases live within us. It can sometimes go unnoticed but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It always is. 

 

People judge us based on our gender, ethnicity, profession, and other factors that should not otherwise determine how we should be respected. The current news is filled with issues concerning Asian people being attacked or even killed. It hurts me how society is slowly diverting to taking these biases to a higher level. It’s scary how far it will all go. 

 

Now, not everybody is experiencing the same thing. It’s not a one-size-fits-all. 

 

To you, it may look like a boss who never values your opinion. To others, it may be blaming external forces for their mishaps. Whatever it is, it blurs our logic and makes us think inaccurately. 

 

No matter how hard you try, it will be hard to go past these unconscious biases without digging deep into their causes. I’d love to say I can help you with that but it’s something that requires more attention than you think. Heuristics play a vital role in this though.

 

We have a vast amount of decision-making within each day. It can range from simple ones like what to eat for breakfast to more serious ones like getting out of bankruptcy. It’s imperative to know how to conquer your biases so you won’t resort to using your emotions. 

 

Researchers found that these were formed by the conditioning that we had growing up. Yes, it’s hard to go back and fix all of them. It’s impossible too. Hence, acknowledging the causes of unconscious bias is the way to go. 

 

To overcome your unconscious biases, you have to be aware that you have them. Acknowledge what they are and how they affect your thinking. Once that’s done, challenge your biases and try to think more critically. 

 

In my own experience, you don’t always need to decide as quickly. It’s something we decided for ourselves because we believed that deciding faster makes us smarter.

 

In the end, you are more than your old conditioning. Challenge your biases and don’t let them take over. Be keener so you can be more confident. 

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