Overcoming Your Biases
READING TIME: 4 MINUTES
Ask yourself: am I biased, and if so, what does that really mean?
We say someone has a bias when they hold a prejudiced opinion against, or in favor of, a certain individual, group, or cause. Biases are generally unfair and are a direct result of our emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is made up of five key elements; self-awareness, empathy, self-regulation, motivation, and social skills. People with healthy levels of these elements are emotionally aware and in control of their emotions and behavior.
However, those who lack emotional intelligence, or are not in control of theirs, have a greater tendency to gravitate towards biases.
Types of Biases
There are many types of biases:
Overconfidence bias: this type of bias addresses the tendency of a person or group to bear a misleading opinion or belief about another.
Self-serving bias: a person who has a self-serving bias puts all their faith into a false "fact," and often preaches it, too, solely for the sake of promoting and validating their own flawed perceptions.
Herd mentality: herd mentality causes a person to lose their sense of individuality and believe in an opinion just because everyone else is following it, regardless of whether or not that opinion is valid or true.
Loss aversion: this relates to a person’s preference to avoid losses instead of taking a risk and potentially attaining a gain of equal value without a guarantee.
Narrative fallacy: when a person creates untrue links or connections between two events under the assumption that they are related, regardless of whether this is true or not.
Why Are Biases Harmful?
Why are biases harmful and regarded as unhealthy and placed under a negative light?
Biases are harmful because they hold power to hurt innocent people. A recent study published by The Guardian proves that there is indeed a gender bias against women. According to these statistics published earlier this year, almost 90% of people are biased against women. The worst part is that these people come from both genders and have no logical explanation for their bias apart from a combination of narrative fallacies and an overconfidence bias.
Apart from hurting others without a good or valid reason, biases can hurt us, too. They encourage us to adopt the herd mentality and lose our own vision and clarity. Biases strip us of our individuality and encourage us to adopt a close-minded approach, hence stopping our personal growth.
Furthermore, biases encourage us to believe in an illusion. Racism and sexism are examples of biases; they hurt everyone and prevent us from seeing the truth. Both spring from the herd mentality, promote a self-serving bias, and hurts everyone, including the oppressor whose mental growth is stunted because they hold a particular bias.
How to Overcome Biases
Overcoming your biases is important; biases hold us back from embodying our best selves.
Here is a step-by-step guide to overcoming your biases:
The first step in overcoming bias is to adopt a better way of thinking. Remember, your mindset can change everything. Your thought process is heavily influenced by the people and information that surrounds you. Surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting, and open-minded people will tailor your thoughts to be more flexible and open and will ultimately help you break out of the herd mentality syndrome, allowing you to become an independent thinker.
You must also become self-aware; self-awareness is one of the five pillars of Emotional Intelligence. Once you begin to notice your own flaws in judgment and thinking, accepting them will become easier. You cannot change your thoughts and eradicate your biases until you accept that there is a problem in your thinking. After this, you can start working on them.
Another way to overcome your biases is by studying valid facts from reputable sources. For example, if you bear a bias against a certain product or company, reach out to genuine buyers who have first-hand experience with the company or the product and ask for their input.
In psychology, there is a concept known as the “ambiguity effect.” This effect causes people to favor making a decision with a familiar outcome instead of trying new things. This concept is closely linked to “loss aversion,” which is noted earlier in this article. Combatting the ambiguity effect will require you to make an active effort to participate in new things; this will help you develop an opinion on them and decide in favor of or against them in the future.
As you can see biases are harmful, and we should try our best to minimize them. Once you overcome your biases, you will be free to fill your mind with your own truth and opinions instead of blindly following the views of others. This is a state of mind we should all strive to achieve.
By practicing neutral thinking and surrounding ourselves with more positive thoughts and people, we can overcome our biases and become better people, ultimately doing our part to make the world a better place for ourselves and others.