Ever found yourself taking sides when you watch a news item, hear from a friend about something that happened to them, or have a bad interaction with someone? And once you have chosen a side, you stick with it no matter what? And then you tend to find that everyone else is supporting your view apart for the odd person who we dismiss as ill-informed? That's confirmation bias at work.
Maybe you can only see the negative in everything - that's negative bias. Or maybe you find yourself taking credit when things go well and looking to blame others when things go wrong - that's self-serving bias. There are many more examples.
I read recently that we have around 50 cognitive biases. Five zero!
Cognitive biases tend to interfere with our ability to rationalise situations, to weigh up the pros and cons, to come to a decision based on logical thought. Cognitive biases cause arguments, can breakup friendships, may make you feel isolated, and can actually destroy lives.
For the most part, these biases are unconscious, they occur without us thinking about them. So how do we overcome these biases, as much as we can any way?
Look at things from all sides.
Here's a recent example that may have a strong view on, an allegation that special operations forces from NZ were involved in a raid that allegedly killed innocent civilians. Perhaps when you read this last sentence your heart rate increased slightly? And you are now wondering where this article is going and if I have a view? That's your biases at work. If you were to now go and read or watch articles from both sides, it may change your view.
Another example I like to use when explaining biases is the case of a parent who confronts a teacher as to why their child isn't doing as well as expected at school. The parent rightfully wants to know how their child is doing, as does the teacher have an obligation to explain why.
Is the parent asking the question because they have compared their child to others in the class or perhaps the parent has a high expectation of their child? And what about the teacher, are they doing everything that they can for this child given that they have other children to teach? Is the teacher answering truthfully or simply wanting to pacify the parent? Add to this, both the parent and the teacher have lots of other commitments to balance in their lives, just like you and I have!
But what about the child, has the child been asked? If so, this might have changed the confrontation to being a discussion.
If we are aware of our unconscious biases, they are no longer unconscious nor are they a bias. It becomes the facts on which we can base a rational determination.
Let's talk, that's the key to unlocking most things.