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Unconscious Bias FAQs

There is no real difference between implicit bias or unconscious bias. These are two different terms that both mean exactly the same. What this means is that they both relate to decisions being made based on assumptions and prejudice as opposed to real data and facts.

The aim should be to take a firm but clear approach to recognising that it is apparent in the workplace. As unconscious bias is something that is beyond our control, the main thing you should focus on is ensuring you engage with employees and educate them on what it really means. You should also encourage them to make informed decisions based on real information and that decisions can be made in time and not on the spot. You should also make a point of ensuring employees understand that you have a modern workplace where everyone is classed as equal which means that decisions should be influenced by any external factors.

You should state that you have certain expectations of employees and that they should make decisions fairly and in an informed way while they should also be made aware of stereotyping. You should also make sure leaders take responsibility for recognising bias while also implementing clear criteria that can drive evaluations and performance in a transparent way. One of the most important things you can do is to learn what the different biases are and then determine which ones are more likely to affect your business. Finally, you should make sure that data and not bias underpins every decision you make.

There are nine different types of bias and they all have a different meaning. Some examples include:

  • Affinity bias – this relates to finding yourself closer to those who are more like you and that could be on appearance, background or even ethnicity.
  • Attribution bias – This could relate to a way of thinking based on the actions of someone.
  • Age bias – This occurs when we make certain judgements on someone because of their age.
  • Authority Bias – Where someone with authority makes a decision, this kind of bias will mean that someone is more likely to follow their lead or suggestions.

There are steps that you can take to check your bias and the first one is to acknowledge that you have them as this means that you recognise they impact decisions. Next you can learn what they all mean because there are nine of them and they all have a different meaning. Next you can then begin to look at things differently while recognising that bias could influence your decision but you will take a different approach to making a decision. Finally, when discussing biases, it makes sense to take a cautious approach.

One of the first steps to combating unconscious bias is to recognise that it can influence any decisions that are made. When you realise this, you can then take a slow approach to making decisions. However, it can also help to understand which unconscious bias you might experience as that will enable you to work through your bias and ensure that you recognise the impact that it has on the decisions made. Once this has been achieved, it will then be easier to make more meaningful decisions.

Unconscious bias can have a negative impact on decisions that are made as well as individuals but it might also be classed as prejudice or unsupported judgements that are made against people, a group or one thing. It is something that occurs within the brain and that causes individuals to make decisions based on their bias. As a result, some people can benefit from the unconscious bias of others while others can suffer.

Unconscious bias is a term that relates to many of the associations that we hold. These will sit beyond our unconscious awareness and our control while it is something that affects everyone. Our brain has a habit of making quick decisions and so, unconscious bias is triggered by this. As a result, we make decisions, judgements and assessments that are based on influences such as personal experiences, cultural context, gender and stereotypes. It is more than just the likes of visible characteristics or ethnicity because many other things such as body weight, height and even names cause be considered a trigger.

Unconscious bias comes in many different forms and this depends on the source that you choose. While it is possible to list the 7 most common types of bias, the list actually consists of 9 and they all play a part in decisions made in the workplace, therefore, the list of nine unconscious bias includes:

  • Affinity bias
  • Appearance bias
  • Confirmation bias
  • Attribution bias
  • Gender bias
  • Age bias
  • Authority bias
  • Halo effect
  • Horn effect

To deal with unconscious bias, you have to understand what they are and assess which ones are affecting you. Being aware of unconscious bias is a good place to start but the aim is to be as transparent as possible by ensuring you take a slow approach to any decisions that you make within the business. This will ensure that you avoid unconscious bias and make the right choices.

Within the workplace, different forms of unconscious bias can be seen. These biases can influence many decisions and can be based on gender, age, association and many other elements. Decisions that are made using unconscious bias can have an impact on the company and employees too.

The real way to identify unconscious bias is to determine the reasons behind a decision and to obtain all of the facts to determine whether unconscious bias had played a role. Individuals can take a slower approach to making a decision as this will prevent them from making a snap decision that could prove to be biassed.

While there might be several different types of unconscious bias, the main three sources are known as:

 

  • Information bias¬† This relates to the distortion of information to inform a certain way of thinking
  • Selection bias – This involves the selection of incorrect individuals based on thoughts and feelings about them as opposed to determining that they are the correct fit
  • Confounding bias – This involves providing an alternative explanation between an exposure and an outcome.

There are three main types of bias that we can identify and these are known as information bias, selection bias and confounding bias. As part of the course, these will be covered as we will provide examples.

There are nine different types of bias and these are known as:

  • Affinity bias
  • Appearance bias
  • Confirmation bias
  • Attribution bias
  • Gender bias
  • Age bias
  • Authority bias
  • Halo effect
  • Horn effect

The goal should be to assist employees from understanding the impact of unconscious bias. Furthermore, it is also about gaining insight on the natural biases that we all hold and the implications of these and assisting employees to break the habits associated with unconscious bias.

Recognising biases is not enough because what really matters is how they are addressed. The courses are short and are designed to help understand how the brain can be trained to take a step back and prevent the unconscious bias from supporting and encouraging negative consequences that are unintended.

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