Unconscious Bias Examples

As the brain processes millions of information per second, unconscious biases are mental shortcuts that enhance decision-making. However, these biases can lead to biased assessments and promote stereotypes, causing more harm than benefit in terms of recruitment and decision-making for businesses. These biases are especially important to be aware of throughout the hiring process because they can impact your future team’s success.

What is meant by unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, is a subconsciously learned assumption, belief, or attitude. These biases exist in everyone and are used as mental shortcuts for speedier information processing. As we amass life experiences and are exposed to various preconceptions, we develop implicit biases.

Unconscious biases have a significant impact on our thoughts and actions. This can have an impact on how we hire, interact with coworkers, and make business decisions in our professional lives. These biases can have a severe impact on a company’s working culture and team interactions if they are not handled properly.

Even though these biases are prevalent, they can be mitigated with purposeful attention and effort. Being aware of and comprehending the various forms of biases that exist will assist you in identifying and combating them.

Effects of Unconscious Bias

Unconscious biases affect us and our decision-making processes in several ways:

  • Our Perception: how we see others and how we understand reality
  • Our Attitude: the way we respond to some people
  • Our Behaviors: how friendly/receptive we are to some people
  • Our Attention: the elements of a person do we focus on the most
  • Our Listening Skills: how actively we pay attention to what others have to say
  • Our Micro-affirmations: how much or how little we console-specific people in certain situations

Examples of Unconscious Bias

Let’s look at some of the most common examples of unconscious bias.

  1. Gender Bias

Gender bias in the workplace is far more common than one might think. When particular attributes (such as assertiveness or confidence) are viewed negatively by one gender but positively by the other, this occurs. 

Negative gender prejudice frequently favors women, making female employees feel undervalued and disengaged in the workplace. Companies that are influenced by gender bias risk missing out on a lot of chances.

“Bropropriating” is a prevalent unconscious bias example in this context, and it occurs when a female member of the team makes a point about something that isn’t well-received. Then, a few minutes later, a male team member makes the same point, and everyone agrees. This bias might cause female employees to be hesitant to express their ideas, which can be both aggravating and demotivating.

  1. The Horn/Halo Effect 

One of the most prevalent examples of unconscious prejudice is the horn/halo effect. It happens when one attribute or event is used to generalize someone’s performance or character. The halo effect occurs when a good attribute is present, while the horn effect occurs when a negative feature is present. This can have a negative impact on an organization by giving some employees biased (both positive and negative) feedback. More information on the Horn Effect can be found here.

  1. Name Bias

When it comes to choosing candidates to interview, this sort of unconscious prejudice comes up frequently. Managers can be biased when reading names they consider “foreign” despite their best intentions – this is obviously an issue because it can stifle diversity and prevent many qualified applicants from being interviewed.

  1. Similarity Bias

The similarity bias states that we prefer to work with people that are similar to us. This may include persons who have graduated from specific institutions, people who have worked for specific companies, and so forth. Organizations influenced by the similarity bias risk a lack of diversity in their ideas and perspectives, leading to less-than-ideal problem solutions.

  1. Right-Hand Bias

Although this is a less common example of unconscious bias, it nonetheless exists. It refers to workplace features that are specifically built for right-handed people. When YouTube first introduced its video-upload capability, 5-10% of videos were uploaded upside down. They had overlooked the fact that people who are left-handed hold their phones differently than right-handed persons. This prejudice can make life more difficult for some people, and it should be taken into consideration by management when adding workplace features.

  1. Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is another example of unconscious bias. This is true not only at work but also in everyday life. When we make a conclusion about something, we actively seek information that supports that judgment while ignoring any facts or perspectives that contradict it. This can be harmful to a business since evidence showing something should be done in a certain manner may be overlooked.

  1. Ageism

When people are assigned work depending on their age, age bias occurs. An example would be a tech-heavy project, where unconscious bias can lead a manager to believe that a younger person would be better suited to the job than an older one. Assuming one’s experience or proficiency is only based on an opinion that isn’t supported by facts is an excellent example of unconscious bias. After all, many elderly individuals are digitally competent, so assuming they wouldn’t be suitable for the job would be unfair.

  1. Beauty Bias

Beauty Bias Lookism, or discrimination based on physical appearance, has emerged as a result of this. A hiring manager who is more likely to hire candidates who are attractive is an example of beauty bias.

  1. Conformity Bias

Conformity bias is akin to groupthink, which occurs when we adapt our ideas or behaviors to fit the larger group’s, even if it contradicts our own. When we are under peer pressure or striving to fit into a specific social group or professional environment, we may develop this bias. While uniformity might help avoid problems, it can also impede innovation, open conversations, and the availability of other viewpoints.

  1. Affinity Bias 

The tendency to favor those who share similar interests, backgrounds, and experiences is referred to as affinity bias. People who are similar to us make us feel more at ease. This bias could have an impact on hiring decisions. For example, a hiring manager may be drawn to a job applicant because they attended the same university.

  1. Contract Effect

We frequently make decisions based on comparisons. As a result, depending on what standard we’re comparing things too, our conclusions may be skewed. The contrast effect is what this is called. Positive contrast effects can also arise when something is seen to be better than usual because it is being compared to something that is perceived to be worse.

A team member, for example, is pleased to earn a “meets expectations” rating on their performance assessment. However, they begin to feel insecure after learning that the majority of their coworkers received “exceeds expectations” ratings on their reviews.

  1. Anchoring Bias

Both the halo and horn biases are comparable to the anchoring bias, aside from the fact that it has no valence attached to it. That is, the inclination to place undue emphasis on good or negative data. The anchoring bias, on the other hand, is the propensity to place too much emphasis on a single attribute or piece of information.If you want to gain more awareness about the examples of unconscious bias, Get Impactly can help you. It is one of the largest providers of prevention and compliance training for colleges and universities.

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