This video helps you identify the ways in which our actions are determined by the outcome we want, which is usually to be liked. Biased behavior can’t always be banished, but it can be identified and minimized.
- Was high school fun for you? For most people, it was a time of desperately trying to fit in. And if you were considered part of the in crowd, you spent most of your time trying to stay there. You may have found yourself agreeing with things your friends said or did because you thought everyone else did too, and you didn't want to stick out. While in hindsight, this can seem like deliberate behavior, and not something outside of our control, in the moment, the behavior is instinctual, and that's what makes it unconscious bias.
There is a genuine leap that is made by our brain which is caused by our desire for self-preservation. This type of judgment can lead us to make grave mistakes. The bandwagon effect, or group think, occurs when individuals try too hard to fit into a group, by agreeing with the majority, or by stifling opinions that may differ from the group. It doesn't even have to occur in large groups. It happens in smaller groups, too, between co-workers, and even among family members. In the 1950s, in a series of psychological experiments, researchers found that people were willing to go as far as giving a wrong answer in order to conform to the rest of the group.
Well, what does this mean for organizations like yours? It means that people are willing to go along to get along. Creativity and independent thought can fly right out the window, and you end up with a pool of people who may have all agreed with an idea, even though those in the room knew that idea was terrible. Ever launched a product that everyone somehow knew was doomed to fail, yet, no one said anything? I know I've been part of that. I worked for a video game company where we launched a title that everyone said would be terrible.
We would discuss in hushed whispers the futility of the project, and the waste of marketing dollars. Yet, we continued to march forward. The title was eventually release, and it was the colossal failure we all knew it would be. But had someone said something before the project really picked up steam, the company could have saved a lot of money in embarrassment. There were decades worth of research on this behavior. And if you want to positively change the way you make decisions, try one or more of these steps.
First take on the role of Devil's Advocate, and let everyone know this is the role you'll be serving in. Next hear the person with the most authority in the room avoid stating your preferences and/or expectations first. Then reserve a sizable block of time to critically evaluate the options that have been discussed. Finally, invite an impartial third-party to attend the meeting and challenge the opinions of the group. You may not be able to implement each step for every meeting, and you may not want to.
However, adding these tips to your toolkit will help you make rational, unbiased decisions.
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- What's unconscious bias and why does it matter?
- The impact of bias
- Identifying unconscious bias
- Affinity bias
- Halo bias
- Perception bias
- Confirmation bias