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NCR Diversity, Equity and Inclusion News #28 - July 2022

July 2, 2022

NCR Diversity, Equity and Inclusion News #28 – July 2022
Cultural Observances, Awareness Information and Events

Are You Biased?

Bias Defined

Many people confuse bias with preference, but there is a very clear difference between the two.  Preferences are likings for one thing over another.  Preferences are based on experiences.  For instance, if your family has had both cats and dogs, you have enough experience with both to know which kind of animal or pet you prefer.  After having several cats and dogs, you may realize that you like dogs more than cats.  You know this because you have interaction with them.  On the other hand, bias is having opinions without having previous experience.  A bias would be liking dogs over cats without having previous experience.  A bias would be liking dogs over cats without having experience with dogs. 

More often than not, biases are opinions about how something or someone is.  Going back to our dog vs. cat scenario, someone may have a bias about a certain breed of dog.  Someone may think that pit bulls are mean, aggressive, and angry dogs that bite everyone, especially children. 

Bias is usually created without us knowing it.  The environments we live in, the people we surround ourselves with, our families, our friends, out workplace, our religion, and our social groups are all factors that can influence our opinions and biases.  We may get ideas about people and things from these groups of people and these environments without realizing it.  Parents may tell their children to stay away from dogs because they are mean and bite.  The children will begin to have a bias towards dogs, thinking they are mean and aggressive.  The children in this family will think this without ever meeting a dog and this is a bias they obtained without knowing it. 

Think About Your Biases Regarding the Following Topics:

            • Race.

            • Ethnicity.

            • Gender.

            • Religion.

            • Sexual orientation.

            • Socioeconomic background.

            • Educational background.

It can be almost impossible to be completely unbiased. It is a natural human instinct to make judgements based on first impressions and pre-conceived ideas or knowledge. However, by being aware of these judgements and ensuring biases are not unconscious, we can avoid the harmful stereotyping and discriminatory practices that often result from biases.

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What Are the Two Types of Bias?

There are two main types of bias, conscious bias and unconscious bias.

Conscious Bias
Conscious bias is sometimes known as explicit bias. This is a type of bias that you are aware of. The bias is happening consciously, in that you know you are being biased and are acting with intent. An individual with conscious bias is likely to be explicit with their beliefs and attitudes and behave with clear intent.

The biased attitudes and behaviors are processed at a conscious level. A conscious bias that is extreme is usually characterized by negative behavior, such as physical or verbal harassment. It can also manifest as exclusionary behavior.

Conscious biases are prejudices. They usually discriminate against people or groups of people. There is usually malicious intent involved in conscious biases.

Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias is also known as implicit bias. It is a very different bias than conscious bias for several reasons. Unconscious biases are beliefs and attitudes that operate outside of a person’s awareness and control. Unconscious bias can be in direct contrast with the beliefs and values you think you hold. You may not even be aware that you hold these biases, or that they are affecting your attitudes and behaviors.

Unconscious biases are difficult to identify. They may influence your actions and behaviors more than conscious biases, without you realizing it. Unconscious bias usually involves no malicious intent, as a person may be unaware of their bias and the effect it is having.

How Do I Stop Being Biased?

You can’t just turn them off.  We need to understand our thinking habit so we can notice when we are operating them and make better choices on what’s important.

Lt Col Bonnie Braun
NCR Diversity Officer

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