Unconscious bias – a human, and avoidable, condition

Unconscious bias – a human, and avoidable, condition

Unconscious bias – a human, and avoidable, condition

Bias, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Facts are your firewall against bias.”-Tom Brokaw

Bias is an inevitable part of the human condition. Evolutionarily speaking, bias is a shortcut that allows us to use prior knowledge to inform our decisions in the present. For example, if you had an unpleasant experience with a dog as a child, you might instinctively avoid it –and others like it– in the future. In this instance, acting on bias serves survival instincts.

Embedded in our thinking processes and deeply rooted in our mindset, biases can subtly influence our judgments and actions. The true danger lies in their very invisibility – we can fall into a biased way of thinking without even realizing it. Our subconscious minds are always at play when we make decisions. Studies have shown that the most highly complex and important decisions are the most prone to our biases. And the higher the stakes, the higher the risk.

While scientists have identified more than 150 inherent biases, here are four main categories.

  • Confirmation Bias is when your research results confirm your preconceptions. But, actively seeking out perspectives that challenge your beliefs can encourage a culture of constructive dissent.
  • Anchoring Bias occurs when you rely on the first piece of data you come across and you “anchor” your decisions around it. In this case, it is extremely important to consider other data points before finalizing decisions.
  • Overconfidence Bias is the tendency to overestimate our own abilities or the accuracy of our predictions. Regular reviews of the past decisions and their outcomes foster continuous learning and process improvement.
  • Availability Bias occurs due to the natural tendency to rely on the most readily available data. In this situation, it is important to ensure comprehensiveness of the all data, not just what comes to mind readily. The antidote is to “trust but verify.”

At nFusion, we know the most effective defense is awareness: understanding them and taking proactive steps to mitigate their impact. We actively foster a culture of critical thinking, seek diverse perspectives, and employ structured decision-making processes. Through awareness and vigilance, we can make more informed, objective, and effective decisions, leading to better outcomes both personally and professionally.