Here’s the thing about biases: we all have them, most of the time they’re harmless, and they’re hard to acknowledge. Whether you’re aware of them or not, we all have personal biases. You know what I’m talking about, that tendency we all have for favoring one thing over another.
But these simple ways of thinking can sometimes hide in our blind spots, and that’s no bueno.
Why We Have Biases
They come with our brains and our human nature. To make decisions, our brain taps into this system called System 1 thinking. That’s where biases come from. This system is automatic and intuitive. Mode 1 is responsible for things like our ability to hit the brakes to avoid a car accident.
But we also have another one called System 2. Unlike its brother, System 2 is more deliberate, rational, and analytical. This will be responsible for allowing us to navigate an unknown route, for example.
Because of these systems, we can say everyone is biased. And, these systems are always evolving. Our past experiences, our cultural backgrounds, the media, and our friends and family all affect our biases.
Spotting Our Biases
So, if biases come naturally to us, how do we spot them? It’s all about looking at them through different lenses. If you only listen to the System 1 thinking, your brain will always run on autopilot, letting your biases rule the game.
There’s a proven way to discover your unconscious biases by taking the Implicit Association Test (IAT). Created 20 years ago, the test measures social attitudes and beliefs that most people are unable or unwilling to recognize. They focus on gender, skin color, weight, race, and more. The IAT is a great way to discover unconscious biases.
Fighting Our Biases
Once you’ve discovered and analyzed your biases, it’s time to fight back. While we’ll never be bias-free, we can certainly make a conscious effort to fight them and spot them whenever they appear. Here are some individual strategies you can take to challenge your biases.
Promote self-awareness – as I mentioned before, taking that test is the first step.
Understanding their nature – don’t feel bad to learn about your biases, we all have them.
Take opportunities to discuss – sharing your biases can help others feel more secure about exploring their own. Having these conversations in safe spaces is critical.
Watch your triggers – be aware of your System 1 thinking.
We know you’re fantastic, and we believe you have the power to control your biases. Keep these tips in mind the next time you catch yourself using your System 1 thinking to rule out a bias towards something or someone.