5 Ways to Spark Reflections About Bias

5 Methods to Spark Reflections About Bias


Organizations are teams of people that work in the direction of a standard purpose by making selections. Sadly, the selections made by these persons are hardly ever good. To err is human. Whereas some errors are simply noise, others are systematic deviations. Whether or not it’s gender bias in hiring, extreme optimism in forecasting gross sales, or resistance to new concepts, many organizations attempt to eradicate undesirable biases.

Whatever the strategy your group might undertake to assist workers make higher selections, people want to acknowledge their very own biases first. The easiest way to do that is to create an “aha second” that challenges your colleagues’ perceptions of themselves and others. Ideally, that is an perception that raises not simply consciousness but in addition a perceived want to alter. Listed below are 5 tried-and-tested challenges you should utilize to realize this.


You might already be conversant in this specific math problem, because it’s turn into a very fashionable strategy to illustrate System 1 considering—psychological processes which might be quick, automated, and intuitive:

A bat and a ball collectively price $1.10. The bat prices $1 greater than the ball.
How a lot does the ball price?

Intuitively, “10 cents” readily springs to thoughts. The right reply is, in fact, 5 cents. (5c ball + $1.05 bat = $1.10 in whole.) This downside can be used within the three-question Cognitive Reflection Check that measures folks’s propensity to assume deeply and intentionally.

The bat-and-ball downside is an effective way to display a root reason for bias: our intestine emotions.

Lifeless father

Take a look on the following brief story:

A son and father are driving down a twisty highway after they by chance swerve off the aspect and hit a tree. Upon arrival, the medics discover that whereas the daddy has died, the son remains to be respiratory. They carry him to an area hospital in hopes of saving his life. Once they arrive, the surgeon appears to be like down on the boy and says, “I can’t function on this boy as a result of he’s my son.”

How is that this doable?

Many individuals who learn this don’t consider essentially the most believable reply: The surgeon is the boy’s mom. As an alternative, they first give you one other clarification till the error dawns on a few of them.

It is a notably highly effective train as a result of it reveals simply how “naturally” and routinely we regularly make systematic errors—illustrating gender bias on this case.

You need to use this problem to encourage pals or colleagues to consider both gender bias or unconscious assumptions. You might even need to design your individual problem with comparable cognitive rules. For instance, you might display how shoppers routinely affiliate a class with a specific model, resembling an internet search with Google.


Typically essentially the most impactful insights come about interactively. The following problem relies on the Wason Choice Process developed a number of many years in the past. In it, individuals have to guess a rule a few quantity sequence. They’re informed one thing like the next;

I’m going to offer you a sequence of three numbers, and I’ve a specific rule in thoughts that this sequence of numbers obeys. I need you to determine what my rule is by proposing your individual set of three numbers to which I’ll both say ‘sure’ it follows the rule or ‘no’ it doesn’t comply with the rule. You’ll be able to let me know what you assume the rule is anytime.

Listed below are the three numbers: 2 – 4 – 8

Most individuals discover that the numbers appear to double in worth and suggest a sequence like 8-16-32. The reply to this could be: sure, it follows the rule. Contributors hardly ever attempt sequences that may falsify their concept, resembling 12-6-3. This illustrates affirmation bias, the truth that we regularly hunt down data that helps somewhat than questions what we already know. In organizations, this can be evident in every thing from a biased interpretation of worker efficiency to a normal lack of innovation.

The Eiffel Tower

Whether or not it’s in our on a regular basis life or in our occupation extra particularly, the judgments we make are constrained by levels of uncertainty. This makes us susceptible to bias.

Think about the next activity:

Is the overall variety of steps to the highest of the Eiffel Tower kind of than 7,000 steps?
Select the proper reply:

  • Greater than 7,000
  • Lower than 7,000

What’s your finest estimate? ___________

The right reply on this specific case can be 1,665 steps. The extra/lower than query is added to create anchoring bias. Individuals will, on common, present considerably larger estimates in the event that they first see this anchor (7,000) than if they’re requested to guess the quantity with out seeing the extra/much less query first.

The Eiffel Tower problem works finest with teams of people that full the duty both with or with out the anchor. Suggestions concerning the imply estimate of the anchored group will present your workers with a strong illustration of collective error and bias. You may make it much more related (and possibly even enjoyable) in case you use a quantity related along with your group.

Trivia time

There may be one remaining bias we now have not but addressed: overconfidence. That is sometimes called the mom of all biases as a result of it’s ubiquitous, cussed, and should stop you from recognizing your biases within the first place.

An effective way to point out your colleagues that they, too, could also be overconfident is to offer them a quiz with a number of trivia questions, resembling:

  • Absinthe is (a) a valuable stone, (b) a liqueur.
  • Robert Plant was the singer of what rock group? (a) Led Zeppelin, (b) The Who
  • Singapore was occupied between 1942 and 1945 by the (a) Chinese language, (b) Japanese.

On the finish of the quiz, ask your respondents (privately) what number of questions they assume they acquired proper. Overconfidence is solely the distinction between appropriate solutions and their estimate. Likelihood is that, on common, your colleagues might be overconfident.

There are different methods you should utilize to disclose overconfidence. The very best-known instance is the above-average impact or illusory superiority, usually illustrated by the discovering that greater than half of all drivers are inclined to fee themselves as above-average drivers. You’ll be able to give you your individual query from the area of labor. Your query would ideally confer with a ability that’s socially fascinating or taken without any consideration by a employee. Having above-average productiveness can be an ideal candidate, for instance. How do you assume your colleagues would fare?


Wherever there are human judgments and selections concerned, there’s additionally error. If this error is systematic, it’s bias. Clearly, this presents a spread of issues to organizations. If you’d like your colleagues to consider their very own biases and the way they are often diminished, you have to set off a dialog first.

You might have already got information about your group that reveals an undesirable bias that you just wish to goal. Whereas it’s necessary to share this along with your colleagues, you’ll be able to create an much more private and relatable spark. To do that, current them with a easy problem that creates a second of perception. I’ve offered a number of choices on this article.


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