Three Steps to Reduce Biases (So Far)

Man Reading Book and Sitting on Bookshelf in LibraryHere is an end-of-the-year summary of sorts. (I’m sorry I have not posted in a while. Fall semester got busy!)


The titles of two earlier posts (April 6 and 19 in 2014) referred to two ways to reduce biases: Learn about the biases and slow down.turtle

These suggestions are not exactly steps to be followed in that order. You don’t have to learn first and slow down second. For example, on the road, if people were to take their time in judging a “bad driver,” then they might avoid the fundamental attribution error without even knowing that’s the exact bias being avoided.

But there may be a certain logic to learning about the biases first. Learning about the biases might cue you to situations in which biases are more likely. And so learning about the biases might cue you to situations in which slowing down might be especially helpful, like on the road when another driver does something seemingly aggressive or stupid. (It might not be practical or even helpful to slow down our thinking all the time.)

In a talk I gave recently at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, as part of their “Scholars Series,” I emphasized a third step to precede the two above (also mentioned in the April 6 learn-about-the-biases post).

That third step is to try to be open to the possibility of our own biases in the first place (see Pledge #1). If we are not open to that possibility, then we might not think that we need to learn anything about our social perceptions. We might not think to slow down our thinking and to try to gather more information before judging others or ourselves.PhotoSpinOffice Imagery© 2001

So to summarize:

Step 1: Be open to the possibility…

Step 2: Learn about the biases

Step 3: Slow down

My UW-Fox Valley talk covered these steps and, in so doing, summarized parts of this blog. I also spoke about how reducing biases can reduce conflict, another major theme to this blog.

My talk was recorded (ran about 50 minutes). And so as an end-of-the year post, here is the link to my talk if you are curious…

Hope you’ve had a good year. 🙂


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