Cognitive bias is a natural phenomenon in the workplace. Everyone is susceptible to it, guilty of it, and we allow it to affect our decision-making process. Cognitive bias is defined as a systematic pattern of deviation from rationality in judgment that occurs when people make decisions or judgments about certain topics or issues. These biases can lead to irrational thinking and inaccurate conclusions, which can have serious implications for the workplace. In order to avoid making costly mistakes due to cognitive bias, it’s important to be aware of some common examples of it in the workplace and what we can do to combat it.
Anchoring bias refers to the tendency of people to rely too heavily on one particular piece of information when making decisions. This often happens when someone has an initial opinion about something, and then looks for evidence to support that opinion. What we should be doing instead is considering all available evidence or data before making any decision. Anchoring bias can lead people to make decisions based on their initial assumptions rather than considering all the facts and possible outcomes.
Availability bias is when people base their decisions solely on the information they have available at the time, without taking into account other factors or elements which might influence the outcome of their decision. This type of cognitive bias can lead to poor decision-making as it does not take into consideration any external sources or wider contexts. Instead, make sure to consult your colleagues, reference any resources you may have, and dig around for more information before making a decision. This will ensure your probability of taking into account more than what is in front of you.
Confirmation bias occurs when people search for evidence to confirm a pre-existing belief, ignoring any information that contradicts this belief. It is similar to an availability bias and can have just as serious results. This type of cognitive bias can lead people to make decisions based on false information or assumptions. Instead, try to keep an open mind when forming opinions on something new. Try to stay aware of any preconceived notions you may have and challenge yourself to think differently.
Groupthink is a type of cognitive bias that occurs when group dynamics prevent group members from expressing their own opinions and ideas, instead encouraging them to conform to the majority opinion. This type of behaviour can negatively impact workplace environments as it discourages creative thinking and problem-solving, and promotes the idea that an individual’s ideas and thoughts don’t matter. To prevent this in the workplace, look around to see how many of your colleagues really feel comfortable speaking out or sharing their ideas, versus how many are simply going with the flow. Encourage everyone to contribute and promote equality within your teams.
Social Desirability Bias
Social desirability bias is when people make decisions in order to gain approval or admiration from others, rather than basing their decisions on objective facts or impartial analysis. This type of cognitive bias often leads people to overestimate their abilities and underestimate the difficulties associated with certain tasks, which can have serious implications for the workplace. This bias is harder to combat as a whole within the workplace, but there are some things you can do. First, make sure you are accurately judging your own capabilities before making any large decisions. Don’t commit to something you are unsure of- but don’t underestimate yourself, either! Second, if you hold a leadership position in your workplace, go out of your way to check in with your team one-on-one and encourage them to share how they are handling their tasks.
By being aware of these common examples of cognitive bias in the workplace, organizations can take steps to reduce their impact and ensure that decisions are being made based on a comprehensive analysis of evidence and facts. This will help increase the accuracy and efficiency of decision-making within the organization, and nurture a healthier work environment for everyone involved.
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