Why is it that when there’s something that’s relatively new, and the motivation behind it is to make things better, it’s often turned around and used in a pernicious way?

We all have unconscious biases. Ideas that we have formed from the world around us, stored in our unconscious mind, where they are put into patterns which we then draw on to make quick decisions.

It’s a protective mechanism which is ‘designed’ so that we can make extremely quick decisions, particularly in moments of danger. Is this animal harmless or a killer? Do I need to run or stay and fight?  That sort of decision.

If you’d like to find out more about unconscious bias, here’s our YouTube version of the video.

However, these patterns and shortcuts to thinking can lead us to make poor decisions or favour one group over another because that group is perceived to be good or bad at that sort of thing.

For example, which gender and or nationality do you think is good at maths? People may have ideas as to a correct answer but, as there’s no real evidence one way or the other, this will be based on their perceived ideas – their unconscious biases.

For many, understanding unconscious biases is about learning more about themselves and how they make decisions, being aware of the potential influences that might lead them to make sub optimal decisions.

Not so long ago people used to be asked to attach photos of themselves to job application forms. Now this is banned in most professions as the only reason for a picture being on a job application is to discriminate against that person based on a visual clue.

Strangely though, you can still find images which show this way of working.

hand coming out of laptop screen holding cv

The Implicit Association Test was developed to try and test or find out the levels of biases that people had. However, it’s largely been discredited. Here are just two of the reasons.

  • if you take the test and then repeat it at a later date, you should get a similar score. However, the IAT results don’t show this.
  • there’s no correlation between the test scores and how people behave in real life.

However, the IAT test has been used to identify people who need to be ‘re-educated’ or ‘retrained’ so that they can ‘correct’ their thinking.

More and more we’re seeing examples of where a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Understanding unconscious bias is an important part of the initial dialogue and we hope that’s what our videos does – start the conversation from a firm base.