12 Common Unconscious Biases

Article by: Team AVTAR I-WIN

Bias is an inclination towards or against one thing, person, or a group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Unconscious bias happens when our brains make some incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realizing it. Sometimes people in their personal or professional lives, tend to lean towards a certain direction influenced by the unconscious biases, often leading to one-sided approach and impaired decisions. Our biases are influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. In fact, it is said that if you have a brain, you will have biases. So all of us have unconscious biases and it happens automatically. But we have to learn to manage our unconscious biases.

Given below are some of the common types of biases that we unconsciously deal with in our day to day lives:

  1. Affinity Bias- Affinity Bias refers to the predisposition to unconsciously prefer, advocate for, or help people who are like us, i.e. with whom we have commonalities or shared experiences. For example, Tendency to take decisions to hire people from one’s same college or same city.
  2. Anchoring Bias- Anchoring Bias refers to the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) while making decisions. For example, the initial price offered for a used car sets the standard for the rest of the negotiations, so that prices lower than the initial price seem more reasonable for a buyer even if they are still higher than what the car is really worth.
  3. Availability bias– Availability bias refers to the tendency to unconsciously make decisions, judgements or assumptions based on the data/information that is most memorable or most easily accessible or available. For example, after you see a movie about a nuclear disaster, you might become convinced that a nuclear war or accident is highly likely.
  4. Confirmation bias– Confirmation bias refers to the inclination to unconsciously filter evidence to support one’s already held points of view and ignore or overlook new information or evidence that disproves them. For example, when in a relationship, we usually tend to undermine things that we want to ignore, and overstate the things which we tend to see or form a conclusion.
  5. Framing bias- Framing bias refers to the tendency to behave differently depending on how a situation/choice is presented to us, E.g. During the elections, politicians may emphasize on the positive developments carried out by them to attract more votes. They may try to malign the opposing party, to put the opposition in a negative frame in the minds of the citizens.
  6. Halo bias- Halo bias refers to the tendency to unconsciously evaluate someone based on a single positive trait that we like in that person and overlook their shortcomings. E.g.; Sales people who are able to achieve the numbers/targets are often loved by managers for their ability to achieve tough targets. But behind the scenes, this employee might not be great team player or might not respect co-workers or might not be organized. But because they are good in one thing all other shortcomings are overlooked.
  7. Horn Bias– Horn Bias refers to the tendency to unconsciously evaluate someone based on a single negative trait that we dislike and disregard their strengths and potential. For example, the administrative assistant who is great at everything but filing. It piles up because he puts it off – resulting in the company hiring a temp to get the filing caught up. In all other areas, he/she might be a great performer. But here this person might be evaluated on a single negative trait and his/her potential might be overlooked.
  8. Negativity Bias- Negativity Bias refers to the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive things. E.g.: When it comes to client feedback, we usually give a lot of importance to the negative feedback that we get. We tend to overanalyse and ruminate over it.
  9. Projection bias- Projection bias involves overestimating the degree to which other people agree with us. E.g.; One thing that we have all encountered is when grocery hopping on an empty stomach we buy more food than we need, we incorrectly anticipate our future hunger preferences based on the preferences we held while making purchase decisions.
  10. Recency bias– Recency bias is the tendency to focus on “what has happened lately/recently” when evaluating or judging something. E.g., Sometimes, in performance reviews only the recent performance of an employee is considered during his/her appraisal.
  11. Social comparison bias- Social comparison bias is having feelings of dislike and competitiveness with someone that is seen physically, or mentally better than yourself. E.g.; When siblings compare themselves to each other or when colleagues compare each other’s performance.
  12. Status quo- Status quo bias is evident when people prefer things to stay the same by doing nothing or by sticking with a decision made previously. E.g.; Most of us prefer a particular brand for various daily essentials, like cosmetics, food and drinks, clothing, etc., Even though there is plenty of choice, people tend to demand a specific product, for years.