The biases that influence our judgments and how to deal with them
Whenever we meet new people, our brains automatically and immediately begin to categorize them in one way or another – male or female, the same or different, friend or foe – in order to predict what is likely to happen. then.
As leaders, we need to be aware that we always evaluate others just as they evaluate us.
Here are seven biases that influence our judgments:
1. Confirmation bias
We make judgments about people in the first few seconds of meeting them. Because we don’t have the mental agility to consciously perceive and process all of the factors necessary to make these calculations, we rely on unconscious estimations. (By the way, that’s why body language is so important. In such a short time, what we are evaluating – and what others are evaluating about us – includes clothing, posture, position, eye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures and tone of voice.)
Once we have made these assessments, confirmation bias kicks in as a powerful bias that we need to look for evidence that confirms those instantaneous and unconscious decisions, and rule out evidence to the contrary.
2. Bias in group / outside group
It is much easier to trust and believe someone who comes from the same background or has similar interests. Even relatively small similarities, like rooting for the same sports team or attending the same seminar, can bond. This is because of a well-known principle in social psychology that people define themselves in terms of social groups: any group to which people feel they belong is an “internal group” and any group which excludes them an “external group. “. We think differently about the members of each group and we behave differently towards them.
The similarities put us at ease. We assume we know what the people in the group look like – they’re good people, like us! The differences make us a little suspicious. When we see people as part of an external group, we are more likely to judge any negative act as typical of their character and to attribute any positive action as “the exceptional case.”
3. Appropriate behavioral bias
We all tend to make judgments about another person based on ourideas of appropriate behavior. It manifests in lie detection when we believe that we know how we would act if we were telling the truth – and that other truthful people would / should behave the same. In reality, there is no universal behavior that signals deception or honesty. People are individuals with their own unique set of verbal and non-verbal behaviors.
4. Attractiveness bias
As unfair as it may be, and even though we claim to be wrong, we judge people by their appearance. And we automatically attribute favorable traits to attractive people, judging them to be more likeable, competent, and honest than unattractive people.
5. Gender bias
Stanford University communications professor Clifford Nass conducted research to see if students would apply gender stereotypes to computerized voices. In one study, half of the subjects were supervised by computers with male voices and the other half by computers with female voices. When the material taught focused on “love and relationships,” students rated their female tutors as having more knowledge of the subject than those with male tutors – even though both voices gave identical lessons.
6. Bias of facial features
Did you know that there are facial features that we naturally trust or distrust? By studying people’s reactions to a range of artificially generated faces, researchers at Princeton’s Department of Psychology found that faces with high inner eyebrows, pronounced cheekbones, and wide chins looked trustworthy. Conversely, faces with low inner eyebrows, shallow cheekbones, and a thin chin were deemed untrustworthy. Of course, you and I realize that the shape of the eyebrows and the prominence of the cheekbones have nothing to do with someone’s character or honesty, but subconsciously we supplant our rational mind and make instinctive judgment.
7. Bias by stereotype
When we are deciding whether or not to trust someone, the category we instantly and subconsciously assigned them to – and our past experiences with other members of that group or how we saw them portrayed (in news, movies, etc.) most frequently – leads us to stereotype people and be more skeptical of some and more confident of others.
There are three steps we can take to confront our biases
1. Become aware of the unconscious
The first step is to recognize that these unconscious evaluations are taking place. The minute we take an unconscious process and make it conscious, it begins to lose its power.
2. Pause to take control
Once we realize how our unconscious biases can influence our evaluations of others, we need to pause to consider how vulnerable we are to a variety of judgment traps. Pausing gives us time to check out some of our assumptions to see how we might have jumped to the wrong conclusion.
3. Assume a positive intention
When speaking to an international audience (so far in 32 countries), I have made more than my share of cultural mistakes, but they have always been graciously forgiven. As one client told me, “It’s okay Carol, we know your heart is in the right place. ”
We would all be wise to adopt the same attitude.