What Is Unconscious Bias (And How You Can Defeat It) (Video and Podcast)

5 min read
What Is Unconscious Bias (And How You Can Defeat It) (Video and Podcast)

To address unconscious bias, you need to understand what it is and how you might fall into it. Just as importantly, you need to develop a series of healthy mental habits that prevent you from falling for unconscious bias. That’s the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which describes the Wise Decision Maker Movement Manifesto. 


Video: “What Is Unconscious Bias (And How You Can Defeat It)”



Podcast: “What Is Unconscious Bias (And How You Can Defeat It)”



Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast

  • Here’s the article on What Is Unconscious Bias (And How You Can Defeat It)
  • The book Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters is available here
  • You are welcome to register for the free Wise Decision Maker Course 


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Wise Decision Maker Guide, where we help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions.

Today, we will talk about what is unconscious bias and how you can defeat it. So let’s first talk about what it is: what is unconscious bias? Why should you care about it in the first place? What is the problem with it? You’ve probably heard about it, it’s a big problem in unconscious bias, implicit bias, it’s both terms used to refer to the same thing. It’s basically forms of unconscious discrimination and stereotyping against other people. If you’ve been white, you know that. tribalism is a powerful aspect of who we are, if you’ve been following my work for a while, we are bred to be tribal beings. Our background, our evolutionary background is an ancestral Savanna when we lived in small tribes of 15 people, 250 people. And so that’s what gut reactions are for. That’s what we’re comfortable with. That’s what our instincts are about. So tribalism is a very important aspect of who we are. We look for people who look like us who think like us who have the same appearance as we do. And we are biased against those who don’t have the same things we do with those who don’t feel like they’re from the same tribe. And unconscious bias. Implicit bias, used to refer to the same thing, is discriminations and stereotyping against other people who don’t have the things that we share. And of course, vice versa.


So you might have heard of the first one, the unconscious bias, implicit bias referred to as the horns effect, that’s a cognitive bias, it’s a, that is a tendency, where we see those who are not from our tribe as problematic. The halo effect is the opposite, where we see those who are from our tribe as more deserving and worthwhile than they should be. So horns effect and halo effect are cognitive biases. And that’s different from unconscious bias. cognitive biases are predictable mental errors that cause us to go astray. And there are over 100 cognitive biases. So this is different from unconscious bias, implicit bias, don’t get those two terms confused. These are things that cause us to incorrectly perceive reality and make bad decisions that harm us. So unconscious bias, implicit bias, refer to discrimination and stereotyping. So that’s the first thing to realize that’s the first thing to understand. Then, let’s think about what are the supplies now,

I often give talks in companies, nonprofits of all sorts organizations on unconscious bias and implicit bias. And I bring up examples of policing, because that’s a very obvious clear area, where unconscious bias unfortunately applies. Now, unfortunately, this is very factual. We have extensive research shown that black Americans experienced much more frequent harassment and violence from police than white Americans. And this is controlling for all sorts of demographics, such as income, geographical location, all sorts of things, you know, so people who are middle class black Americans living in middle class neighborhoods across the country experience far more police harassment than those who are the white neighbors. And the same thing for blue collar black Americans living in blue collar neighborhoods. So that happens across the board. The difference, the key thing is simply why they appear like their appearance, their physical appearance, the color of their skin, that’s the only thing that causes this discriminatory reaction. And the interesting thing isn’t terribly, very sad is that black police officers so African American police officers still feel and act in these discriminatory ways against black people. So black police officers also stopped black people at a much higher rate than they stopped white people are proportionately speaking again, controlling for demographics, controlling for crime rates, controlling for everything else. So that is clearly a matter of systematic problems. So internal cultures and police departments, this is not a matter of something that is just because an individual feels discriminatory towards somebody else. This implicit bias is a systemic issue where police officers are taught in such a way their education, their inculcation into the culture of the police department, their norms, it shows that this is not just a few bad apples. It’s the fundamental internal culture, the structure and joints of the battle itself that need to be fixed, not you know, a couple of bad apples inside the barrel. That is the crucial thing to realize. And the same thing, of course, applies to all sorts of organizations, when we see discriminatory outcomes against African Americans or any Other people on the margin. So other minorities, this is not simply a matter of a few bad apples inside the company. This is a matter of company culture of internal culture. So that’s what in speeches, I make that connection. And that helps people realize that the dynamics going on, you know, this is not about a few bad apples. Sure, there are people who are overt, Li explicitly racist. But by and large people, inside companies or inside police departments, even in our freedom, you may believe this or not, not overtly racist, they feel themselves to not be racist, they don’t understand they don’t recognize that they experienced this racism. So this is an unconscious form of racism. And that’s another very important aspect of what this bias is about implicit bias, conscious bias.


This is not something that people are explicitly aware of, it’s implicit. And they don’t understand that what they’re acting on are these internal instincts and feelings that are driving them to make these really bad decisions. And overcoming unconscious bias has to do with realizing what’s going on inside of us that we all feel these tribal impulses. And there’s no shame in that, there is no guilt. And we should not feel guilt and shame about our impulse, just like we shouldn’t feel guilt or our impulse to have enough. If we have, let’s say, a gallon of ice cream, it’s very tempting for us to eat more than a half cup of serving of ice cream, you know, half a cup of serving of ice cream, right? That’s the official serving size on a gallon of ice cream. I mean, show me the person who can just, you know, eat half a cup of ice cream, it’s impossible. Well, practically speaking, at least for me, and those people I know, and probably many people who are checking out this episode, it’s very hard to do that. So you want to understand that this is an impulse that comes from the second environment. Because in the savanna environment, it was imperative for us when we came across a source of sugar like karney, bananas, apples, to eat as much as we could in order to survive and thrive. And we’re the descendants of those who had that strong, very strong internal impulse to eat as much of it as possible. And similarly, the tribal instinct is just as strong, we have a very strong tribal instinct. So you want to understand that these instincts have to be overcome, and there’s just like, no fat shaming people doesn’t work in order to help them have a healthy diet. So does shaming people around tribalism unconscious bias, you don’t want to shame them, you want to talk about how this is a natural intuitive tendency that needs to be addressed. Just like all other unhealthy intuitive tendencies, the physical problem for our physical health, to have too much sugar, and problems for our urbanization of health and for communal health, for social health, to express tribalism, and to express unconscious bias, implicit bias.


So this is where highlighting the dangers of unconscious bias comes up. And I talked about policing, it depends on what context you’re in, but you want to understand how it hurts you the damage that it does to you and to those around you. And then you want to talk about what new mental habits you can have. There is, of course, training for police to address unconscious bias training for companies to address it. But you want to not simply do training. A one time training has been shown to be not very effective, let’s be honest, in addressing unconscious bias, this is not a matter of a one time training. This is a matter of making a long term systematic commitment to addressing those structure and joints of the battle issues to addressing the systemic issues of organizational culture and individual behaviors, individual impulses, individual intuitive impulses to address both for yourself as an individual and for the organization, unconscious bias within these dynamics. So that’s how you over learn about what’s unconscious biases and defeat.


All right, I hope you have enjoyed this episode of the wise decision maker guide, where we help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions. There’s much more about this topic in the blog linked in the show notes. So please check that out. And there’s plenty of other blogs relevant to this topic linked there, as well as my book that’s very there are two books that are really relevant on this that will be linked in the show notes. One is never go with your gut, how pioneering leaders make the best decisions and avoid business disasters. And that’s about project implementation decision making in a business context. So how they actually implement these policies. Another one is the blind spots between us on how to overcome unconscious cognitive bias and build better relationships. And that’s about the specificity of unconscious bias and relationship building effective communication within teams. So check those out as well.


And check out the wise decision maker guide which is twice Monthly source of resources that you’ll get, you can subscribe to it, it’s free. There’s an eight video based module course on making the wisest decisions that comes as part of it. So that way you’ll get to get all my new content over time. So make sure to check that out. All right. I hope you have a great day and as always the wisest and most profitable decisions to you, my friends. 


Note: transcript generated automatically using otter.ai


Bio: An internationally-recognized thought leader known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he is best known for Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). He published over 550 articles and gave more than 450 interviews to prominent venues such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. It also stems from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.