Bias

We (humans) tend to assign certain qualities to other people or things, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. That sounded too vague and a little complicated right ?

Let's talk about impressions for a minute.

For example, If a kid in your school always brings in new gadgets and show off, you might think that the kids parents are rich. Another example - let's say a kid in your school wears a torn shoe, you could possibly assume that the kid's parents are poor. These are impressions you create in your mind. These impressions are what we call Bias.

A Bias is our perception of the way things are or should be, even if it's not totally accurate. This can affect everything from our relations to our work to our lives.


Exercise : The Tag Game

Tag Game, adapted from Fowler (2006). In this exercise, participants stick badges, in a variety of shapes, colours, and sizes, somewhere between their waist and neck. Participants are then instructed to form groups without talking. There are no instructions given as to what criteria to use to form the groups. Once formed, the participants are instructed to break up and form into new groups. This is repeated at least four times. Participants will normally form groups based on shapes, colours, or sizes. Rarely do the participants look beyond the badges, and even less rarely do they intentionally form diverse groups in which many shapes, colours, and sizes are represented.

This powerful yet non-confrontational activity leads well into a discussion about social categorisation processes, the automaticity of “us” vs “them” categorisations, and in group bias (also known as affinity bias). It is also an excellent exercise for introducing the concept of diversity and the potential benefits of diverse workgroups. Group discussions following the exercise explore diversity experiences (or lack thereof) in the workplace, and prompt participants to suggest ways to improve the recognition, support, and value of diverse perspectives and experiences.