Day 40 - Unconscious Bias
Robin Boudette, Ph.D.
Robin is a psychologist in Counseling and Psychological Services at Princeton University, and has worked 14 years with students. She is the former Director of the University Medical Center at Princeton Eating Disorders Program, and founder of the Mind-Body Health Services Team.
Evolution has wired us for bias. Automatic, instinctive aversions are useful survival mechanisms, and whether the bias is accurate, fair or warranted doesn’t matter in the split-second context of a life or death decision. But bias matters deeply in a social world - and understanding the preferences and aversions you’ve inherited or assumed, is essential to self-knowledge and awareness.
We all have unconscious bias, that lead to unfair assumptions and prejudice. We are taught social stereotypes through implicit signaling, and we’re hardwired to automatically and non-consciously classify social and identify groups. These unconscious processes are far more prevalent than conscious prejudice, and are often incompatible with our conscious values and beliefs.
Unconscious bias is determinable, and we can take steps to limit its impact on our thoughts and behaviors. Mindfulness enables us to surface and objectively examine our biases - and the mental skill to diminish them.