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Humans and Bias

Aren't we the best to judge someone or not the best to judge someone?

By Maanasa Meera Mamilla Published 19 days ago 4 min read
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Note that I am still learning. The article I've written reflects my own understanding and experiences. I welcome your feedback and thoughts on it.

Have you ever come across someone who is speaking incorrect facts, yet they are highly learned personalities? I have seen people, especially those with high self-esteem and a tint of overconfidence, exhibit these characteristics. These are the traits of people who look through a keyhole and believe they understand the depth of it. I guess the Dunning-Kruger effect does not work for them. On the flip side, they may not care to delve deeply into the subject. They tend to skim the topic's surface, and if they possess linguistic intelligence, they can easily manipulate others. People making irrelevant and illogical points often have biases.

According to Wiki, bias is an inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered unfair. A human bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from rationality in judgment—a shortcut that brains use to process information, leading to incorrect judgments. Biases have both positive and negative effects.

If we trace back the origin of biases, there are two types:

Evolutionary biases: These might have developed in the past to enable quick decision-making in critical situations, even if not always accurate. For example, we tend to give more importance to negative information than positive.

Personal experiences: Shaped by upbringing, culture, social groups, and individual life experiences. A child raised in a household with strong religious values might have a bias towards their own religion.

There are different types of human biases, which can be broadly categorized into two main types:

Cognitive biases: These affect how we think and process information, often unconsciously leading to errors in judgment. Some common examples include:

• Confirmation bias: The tendency to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs and to ignore information that contradicts them.

o Example - People tend to favor news sources that align with their political beliefs, ignoring or downplaying opposing viewpoints.

• Anchoring bias: The tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information we receive when making a decision.

o Example - During salary negotiations, the first number mentioned by either party can anchor the rest of the discussion. Whoever throws out the first number has an advantage in shaping the final outcome.

• Availability heuristic: The tendency to judge the likelihood of something happening based on how easily we can think of examples of it happening.

o Judging a person based on one experience: Someone cuts you off in traffic, making you think all drivers are rude and impatient, even though it's just one isolated incident.

• Hindsight bias: The tendency to believe that we could have predicted an event after it has already happened.

o After an election, you might hear people say, "I always knew he/she would win!" even though many were unsure of the outcome beforehand.

Social biases: These affect how we interact with other people, often based on our stereotypes and prejudices about different groups of people. Some common examples include:

• In-group bias: The tendency to favor members of our own group over members of other groups.

o Example - Spending more time and socializing with people who share our hobbies, interests, or political views.

• Out-group bias: The tendency to distrust or dislike members of groups that we are not part of.

o Example - Deliberately excluding members of an out-group from social activities or events. Creating an unwelcoming atmosphere for individuals who are perceived as "different."

• Implicit bias: Unconscious biases that we hold about different groups of people.

o Example - A hiring manager unconsciously favors candidates from the same gender or ethnicity as them.

• Confirmation bias: The tendency to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs about different groups of people.

o Example - Ignoring or downplaying research contradicting personal opinions about specific groups.

Five steps to overcome biases:

Step 1: Be open to change – Having a mindset to change is important. Stubbornness is not appreciated and impedes growth.

Step 2: Read, read, and read – It is important to read opposing viewpoints on the topic. This will help understand other perspectives.

Step 3: Be open to different perspectives – Only reading is not enough; listening and understanding others' perspectives are crucial. One must be open to contradictory points and distinguish between facts and feelings.

Step 4: Challenge your assumptions – Question the thought process, it helps to reach the truth.

Step 5: Keep ego aside – During discussions, the fragile ego (insecure and easily threatened by criticism or perceived slights, leading to defensiveness and aggression) should be set aside, and the compassionate ego (characterized by empathy, understanding, and the ability to connect with others on a deeper level) should prevail.

Next time you encounter someone who is obstinate and unyielding, feel free to share the above five steps with them. Together, we can work towards making the Earth a sane and tolerable place to live.

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About the Creator

Maanasa Meera Mamilla

An ordinary girl who likes to write and tell stories.

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