Larsen is a Senior Mediator at the Center for the Resolution of Disputes. She is the Co-Founder of Beyond Civility.
Most of us are able to acknowledge we hold certain biases, beliefs based on our own life experience, or passed along to us by others, that we casually adopt without much question. New Yorkers are rude. Politicians, especially those who do not share our views, are motivated by self-interest and can be bought. Jerome is smarter than Jamal.
Biases significantly impact the way we communicate, or choose not to communicate, with others.
If approached by someone we trust, with evidence that our bias has no basis in fact, we may reconsider and make the effort to let go of what may now be deemed a misconception. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
But what of those biases we hold without being aware they exist, but that nonetheless form the basis for our day to day decisions, perhaps to the serious detriment of those with whom we interact.
One of the many scientific research studies detailed in “Everyday Bias” by Howard J. Ross, reports the results of 2,926 medical school applicant interviews at the
University of Toronto between 2204 and 2009. Those interviewed on rainy days were rated lower than those screened on sunny days, equivalent to reducing their MCAT achievement scores by 10%, determining for many whether they would become a doctor or not!
Are you shocked by the wholly unconscious manner in which the weather influenced such important decisions?
Unconscious influences, largely unknown to us, some seemingly insignificant and those very significant, dominate our everyday life. This should give us pause and motivate us to learn more.