By Harry Petsanis and Donna McCance
Bias is defined as people having feelings and opinions, usually preconceived, against people or things, sometimes unfairly, although not always.
People immediately and automatically make up their minds and take positions on things without giving any thought. This is called “implicit bias” and it often occurs unintentionally because people aren’t even aware that they are doing it. It affects our choices, decisions, judgments, and actions.
Bias is part of the human condition. As children, our human nature guides us toward bias based on our interactions with others. Our association with others and how we feel around them helps us determine who we want to be with. As we grow, so do our biases. We learn biases from others (conditioning), and we form our own biases as we go along in life. For example, we make decisions on what clothing we like to wear, what foods we prefer to eat, etc.
Problems arise when we become so comfortable with our biases, we automatically react without considering that they may be affecting our decisions in a negative way. This causes many conflicts within our affiliations with individuals and/or groups.
People quickly and easily share with others what their positions and stances are on things, but rarely support their positions and stances with any evidence based on knowledge, research, or education. It’s often based on thinking the way others have told them to think, conditioned them to think, and programmed them to think.
This preconceived way of thinking causes people to make judgements without basing them on facts, logic, and the information in front of them. Once a person immediately comes to their conclusions without forethought, they then twist and contort every clue and piece of evidence that contracts their predetermined decisions to their favor.
Biased thinking precludes any opinion or fact that contradicts someone’s bias. The more facts you show someone who is entrenched in their position, the more entrenched they will become in their position.
The greatest bias that we have is for ourselves. We rarely look at ourselves objectively, and automatically think that the way we think about ourselves is how other people should perceive us. And when other people try to give us their perception of how we are, we immediately cut them off, disbelieve them, and defend our beliefs about ourselves.
One of the greatest facts that we should examine in ourselves is our biases. Biases not only limit our thinking, but they also bias our thinking. We will do everything within our power to try and support our decisions, regardless of the irrationality behind them.
While people may use the excuse that bias is hard to break, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be broken. The first step is to pause and become more aware of your thinking. Think about your past and how people in your life have influenced you to believe and act a certain way. Think about how you have formed opinions and see if you are using that same way of thinking in every situation.
Think about your own beliefs. Are they truly your own beliefs, or are they things that were transferred onto you as a child? Are they things that you adopted as beliefs because of peer pressure? Do you really even know what you truly believe because it was suppressed due to conformity? Have you formed your own beliefs on certain individual experiences that you then apply to everyone?
As you become more aware of the influences that have impacted your life, you can begin to sort things out in your mind and come to terms with how you came to be who you are so you can then come to terms with who you truly want to be.
Recognizing and addressing your biases leads to the next step - change. You need to completely change your mindset. You need to erase your mind of your old ways of thinking. You need to eradicate the thinking that was imprinted on you, and you need to elilminate the thinking that you formed yourself.
It is possible to look at yourself and recognize your biases. In order to do that, you need to look at yourself. This simple step is something that people fiercely fight and oppose because they don’t want to look at themselves.
Another important step is to focus on your listening. Have you become so entrenched in defending yourself and your positions that you don’t even listen to what people are saying to you? Stop and ask yourself, “Is it possible that what this person is telling me could be true?”
About the Authors
Harry Petsanis is a philosopher of human nature, mindset specialist, and lifelong fitness and wellness advisor. He is a writer and author, with three published books: “The Truth is A Lie,” “The Logical Path to Life,” and "Knowing Me from A to Z, A Child's Mindset," which he co-authored with Donna McCance, M.Ed.. Harry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He has an intense passion for psychology and the human condition.
Donna McCance, M.Ed. is a business administrator, writer, author, licensed teacher and principal/vice principal with over 20 years experience teaching in elementary education and educational leadership. She has a Masters in Education, Masters in Human Services Management, Bachelors in Business Administration and Associates in Business Administration.
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The Truth is A Lie" and "The Logical Path To Life"
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"Knowing Me From A to Z, A Child's Mindset"
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