8 Examples of Unconscious Bias In Daily Life
Our mind develops unconscious bias in daily life, often at a very young age, causing people to make automatic decisions based on selective attention, threat of stereotyping, or intentional blindness.
Interaction with people affects each of us in different ways, and it could be an individual with good intentions making wrong decisions based on unconscious processes working in the mind in a biased state. The capacity to deal with interpersonal relationships is hampered leading to lack of what is known as emotional intelligence.
Here are 10 examples of unintentional prejudices obvious to bystanders but which may go unnoticed by individuals participating in making unconscious decisions leading to bias.
- Selecting a neighborhood based on racial preferences. People unconsciously decide a neighborhood is not good enough for them or their families based on irrational logic. For example, a Hispanic group of people usually stay together to help with language problems and demonstrate strong community connection. However, there’s a 50-50 chance a White Native American is likely to move into a black-dominant neighborhood. A recent KFF poll results published by CNN revealed racism has never really faded away and unconscious bias creeps in at every juncture.
- Children are prone to retaining unintentional prejudices found in parents. We each must assess our own unique identities and background and make a conscious effort to interact with other community members. For example, an African-American child is likely to hesitate joining a higher-education Institute with a majority of white students.
- Studies have found children also suffer in schools where some receive less attention than others because teachers are victims of unconscious bias. Children are likely to develop more skills when part of a large community with less discrimination and division on racial lines.
- Historically, women are often told at a very young age they are likely to excel in the arts, while math can be a bit tough. Performances suffer as they grow up. By the time they reach college, unintentional blindness has taken its toll, and results indicate a faring rate below par as compared to other subjects.
- We tend to believe individuals in higher positions are usually right. For instance, passengers travelling in a plane listen to messages over the intercom. Imagine a situation where the plane does not take off for an hour or two. Irritation creeps in, and unconscious bias suggests it could be a flight attendant making announcements based on unconfirmed reports. By the time the flight is ready to take off and the captain arrives to apologize for the delay, passengers are surprised it was not a flight attendant making the announcements but the captain. Resentment seems to fade away.
- Assumptions can lead to implications affecting even intelligent people. Take the example of individuals listening to music on their iPod. The general assumption is an African-American are more likely to listen to rap music. Unintentional prejudice develops by watching a host of talented African-American musicians excel in rap. Similarly, we assume persons with tattoos are rebellious, and often seen in dangerous situations.
- A common stereotyped prejudice is an unfriendly attitude towards gay people. The same prejudice extends towards people from different racial backgrounds.
- People in minority groups can dine at any restaurant across the United States, however, they may find it a bit difficult to make a taxi stop simply by waving their hands.
There are so many instances of unconscious bias in daily life. It has become absolutely necessary to tackle the problem before it crosses over from the classroom to the workplace. Signs of intolerance are increasing day by day. Many are due to prejudices developed over a period of time and sometimes throughout an entire lifetime. We must approach unconscious bias head-on, talk about it, and equip our children with the knowledge and understanding that everyone is different — and in many more ways than the color of their skin, their accent or religion.
We have work to do.