Types of Unconscious Bias

Biases are unavoidable outcomes of our individual backgrounds and experiences. It’s inevitable. Our brains are programmed to use shortcuts to help us process information more quickly. We rely on this information to help us navigate the world. These shortcuts, however, might lead to erroneous assumptions and behaviors, as well as preconceptions and bias.

Businesses face challenges in becoming more diverse and inclusive, particularly when it comes to hiring and recognizing future leaders. However, avoiding bias is difficult. After all, there are different kinds of unconscious prejudice, and they occur frequently. 

The following are some of the most prevalent types of unconscious bias:

  1. The Halo Error

Have you ever met someone who seemed to have no flaws? Teachers, managers, and parents all adored them. Even when they committed mistakes, no one seemed to notice. Why? It’s known as the Halo Error, and it’s one of the most common forms of unconscious bias.

It’s easy to form conclusions based on a person’s overall impressions and assign a rating to everything they accomplish. But it’s a huge blunder. When people are unable to distinguish between factors that reveal a person’s true potential, bias develops. Instead of looking at someone’s entire resume, they pick and choose a few memorable samples.

However, the opposite effect might also occur. Someone may appear to be doing everything “wrong.” As a result, we fail to see their potential or appreciate their good ideas.

  1. The Authority and Bandwagon Effects

We’ve all met a couple of “yes” men and women. To fit in, they’ll agree to just about anything other people like. Getting on the bandwagon, on the other hand, means leaving anyone who believes differently behind.

The Authoritative Effect also affects persons who constantly agree with an authority figure’s point of view. This form of bias values a boss’s viewpoint over all others. When it comes to talent, however, authority people frequently make recommendations based on insufficient, high-level data. Lower-level executives typically have more information on candidates and their performance.

  1. Confirmation Bias

Everyone enjoys hearing that they are correct. As a result, when we hear something that supports our worldview, we are more likely to trust it. On the other hand, we dismiss information that contradicts our worldview. Confirmation bias, on the other hand, is one of the most hazardous types of unconscious bias.

A manager, for example, may have an unconscious bias that youthful employees are lazy. The manager may only recall the few occasions a young employee needed to leave early, no matter how many hours they work. As a result, the manager decides against giving them a raise or recommending them for advancement.

  1. Overconfidence Effect

Overconfidence, on the other hand, can lead to skewed judgment and bias. This occurs when people believe their subjective judgments are considerably more accurate than they actually are, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Sometimes, rather than relying on the outcomes of instruments or assessments, people just go with their intuition. While your gut instinct may occasionally be correct, data is always more accurate.

  1. The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Have you ever witnessed an expert underestimating their abilities or a novice overestimating their abilities? The Dunning-Kruger Effect is what psychologists call it.

Because it’s difficult to anticipate potential, professionals sometimes hesitate to offer strong HR recommendations. An inexperienced individual, on the other hand, may believe that they know what they’re doing and rely solely on their own judgment, disregarding any evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately, the Dunning-Kruger Effect biases people by giving the biggest voices to newcomers.

  1. The Fundamental Attribution Error and In-group Bias

Have you ever been in a scenario where someone keeps recommending close friends for jobs? This person insists that their acquaintance would be a fantastic fit, even if they lack the necessary skills. This is known as Ingroup Bias. And what if someone stresses a certain talent that might be a good fit but ignores the rest of their resume? This is a similar bias, called the Fundamental Attribution Error.

Bias is developed in both circumstances when someone favors someone with whom they can intimately identify. They’re interested in the person’s common demographics, background, or professional experience rather than the person as a whole. We all want to be able to connect with the people we’ll be working with, but just because someone has comparable characteristics doesn’t guarantee they’re the appropriate fit. Unfortunately, these biases lead to more of the same and opposition to new ideas.

  1. Increasing the Level of Commitment

People will always stand by their investments and decisions, even if new knowledge contradicts them. Escalation of Commitment is a bias that occurs when people refuse to change their beliefs. They feed this predisposition with a fear of losing if they change course.

A corporation, for example, dedicated time in professional development for an employee who appeared to be a strong fit for a leadership role. They understood this employee wasn’t the best fit as time went on, but they decided to stick with him instead of cutting their losses and moving on to someone who was a better fit.

  1. Contrast Effect

When we compare two or more prospects we’ve met, we experience unconscious prejudice. Receiving a really strong application unintentionally establishes a standard in our minds, making all subsequent applications appear inferior.

The contrast effect has a flaw in that it lacks impartiality. It distorts expectations and can make a good candidate appear ordinary, or a bad one appear outstanding. Both are lose-lose situations because you never get the best candidate for the job; instead, you get the “best” candidate out of the handful you’ve seen so far.

The contrast effect has a problem in that it lacks impartiality. It distorts expectations and can make a good candidate appear ordinary, or a bad one appear outstanding. Both are lose-lose situations because you never get the best candidate for the job; instead, you get the “best” candidate out of the handful you’ve seen so far.

  1. Horns Effect

The horns effect is the polar opposite of the halo effect: you focus on one particularly unfavorable aspect of a person, clouding your perception of their other characteristics.

If a person employs a certain use of a phrase that you despise, you may begin to dislike everything else they say.

You should avoid focusing on areas of recruitment that you despise personally. One blunder or shortcoming does not represent the entire group.

Ways to Overcome Unconscious Bias

You’ll notice when you fall into these mindsets now that you know what unconscious bias is and how to recognize the different varieties. People, on the other hand, have a hard time going against their subconscious beliefs and opinions. It’s far more difficult to completely reroute your preconceptions than it is to notice them merely.

  • Take your time when making decisions. Making the right decision is more important than making a quick decision to save money and time, thus avoiding making snap decisions or forming views. Instead, make sure to examine each candidate’s talents thoroughly and have an open mind.
  • Consider each person as a unique individual. Instead of comparing one candidate to another, you should evaluate them on their own merits. Examine them from many angles to avoid selective observation, and back up your conclusions with a variety of evidence.
  • Change your perspective. Everyone should strive to be more positive in their assessments of others, giving praise where credit is due and not exaggerating flaws.

If you want to gain more awareness about the types of unconscious bias, Get Impactly can help you with it.

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