3 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Bias and Improve Decision-makingCan Training Reduce Cognitive Bias and Improve Decision-making

3 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Bias and Improve Decision-making

We all have biases whether we know it or not. We all have unconscious preferences in regards to all sorts of things, including people. The problem with this is that acting on and making decisions based on our biases creates marginalized groups and inequality.

So what exactly is cognitive bias? Why is it important to know about? And how can cognitive bias training help?


Defining Cognitive Bias 

Put simply, cognitive biases are the unconscious preferences or judgments that we believe. So it may be that we do not even realize we are making decisions based on our biases because we are not in tune with them. Cognitive bias is the main contributor to racial and gender inequalities in the workplace.

There are three types of cognitive biases that we see happening.

  1. Moral Licensing

This is when a person acts morally correct in the past that leads to them acting immoral or unethical in future decisions. This happens because once a person makes one ethical or moral decision, they then feel as though they have good morals and that one act justifies their decision in the future, even if those acts are not morally or ethically sound.

This way, people can ignore their biases by only having to make a few “good” decisions.

      2. Affinity Bias

Affinity bias is when a person favours those who are similar to themselves. This general happens because people know or are more comfortable with people like them. This can be the most problematic within the hiring or recruiting process. Those who are doing the hiring will prefer candidates who look or have a similar background.

    3. Confirmation Bias

This is exactly what it sounds like in that people will seek out information to confirm their biases. Individuals will ignore new information that does not support what they already believe. This can lead to poor decision making because people get stuck and do not look to create antiracist workplaces or to participate in cognitive bias training.

Why Does this Matter? 

In today’s world, we see countless examples of racism and discrimination based on a variety of factors like gender, sexual orientation, or age. This has long been accepted because it has become the norm. Also, many do not realize they are acting on their biases or they choose to not analyze their decision making processes.

Are These Biases Unlawful?

Yes. In 2010 the UK passed the Equality Act. This Act was put in place to protect all citizens from discrimination based on characteristics like age, race, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy/maternity, disability, religion, or gender assignment.

In 2011, the Public Sector Equality Duty was enacted. This duty charges public authorities with the responsibility to think about how their policies and decisions affect individuals protected under the Equality Act. Examples of these public authorities include:-

  • government departments and ministers
  • the armed forces
  • the NHS
  • local authorities
  • the police
  • educational bodies like schools and universities
  • the information commissioner.

Benefits of Cognitive Bias Training 

Cognitive bias can go unnoticed by individuals on purpose or by accident. The goal of cognitive bias training is to help people think about their decision making and be able to identify their own biases before making a decision. Research found that even at least one cognitive bias training can improve decision making especially in high stakes decision making.

Individuals who go through cognitive bias training are shown where their biases may be at and they are educated on how biases appear during decision making. Because of this, people are more aware of their cognition, or thinking, and therefore can change their thinking as they make decisions and recognise how understanding diversity improves the workplace for all.

Final Considerations 

The goal of cognitive bias training is to minimize or remove altogether the disadvantages suffered by marginalized or minority groups. The needs of minority or protected groups tend to differ in some way from majority groups. Cognitive bias training can also provide the steps needed to meet the needs of these groups.

As cognitive bias training is implemented, especially in the workplace, we will begin to see the system itself change. Then, we can hopefully see true and lasting change that provides equality.

Should you require further advice and help with any aspects of how to  Reduce Cognitive Bias and Improve Decision-making do not hesitate to contact us or Call 0800 1125050