What is Bias?
Bias is a definitive, negative or positive, preference for one thing over another. Bias may be good in the case of preferring to use safety equipment, but bias is also the basis of stereotypes that, when left unchecked, may blossom into prejudice.
How to Overcome Bias?
Biases are natural. From early childhood, environmental influences act as mental conditioning that subconsciously inform our decisions and opinions in later life. Similarly, the way we see the world is through an inside and outside perspective. We consider those who are like us as validating our own identity, making us feel good, and those who are not as invalidating our identity and causing cognitive dissonance resulting in negative preference and distance. In this way we will make first impressions on people and things that will fit into our predetermined view of the world.
We are always at the centre of our own private universe and in many ways the decider of justice and rules within it. With this in mind, it is very natural to gravitate to those who “fit” into our world whilst avoiding those who don’t. Unfortunately, this “me vs what is not me” scenario can turn into an “us vs them” situation where not only avoidance occurs but also fear and degradation toward that which we perceive foreign to our world vision.
Ironically, the way to overcome inherent bias is not through repression or banning it as this will create a stronger internalised bias. Instead to truly lessen bias over time is through becoming more self aware of the biased thoughts and actions we have and do, then without pushing them away using that knowledge and observation to form part of a deliberate choice not to act upon that bias. Humans are naturally biased, as it allows us to create quicker judgements, easier emotional connections and the easier process of information. The downside is that with short cuts comes a lack in accuracy. It is not easy to overcome one’s inherent biases or prejudices but it is possible through genuine desire and a greater understanding of others and ourselves.