Madie’s Top 5 Takes On … Checking Your Bias

Words by Madieson (she/her), 24 WA

Bias is present across so many situations, for a variety of people. Whether this be based on gender, race, age, ability or financial status. We always need to conscious of our bias and making a conscious effort to keep ourselves in check.

Until very recently, I had been on the receiving end of only a gender bias. However recently on a holiday with my partner I had my first experience where I felt an age bias was present. I have heard of other’s experiences and understand on a larger scale that age bias exists, however this was the first time that I had truly felt it! And man, it felt like absolute crap!

Here are my five hot takes to help with this!

Never assume.

The more I write, the more I realise this is one of the underlying principles that I use to guide the way I live my life. By remaining open-minded and free of assumptions, you open yourself up to more meaningful connections with others and creating new friendships/relationships.

By making assumptions about people based on a myriad of different things, you become small-minded and lose the importance of engaging with people from a multitude of backgrounds.

Some examples of age bias is that young people are not as capable as the older generation in management roles, because they are young. Or not treating someone as an equal because they are younger than you.

Your own experience is not the only experience out there.

What often happens when people make assumptions and choose to not engage with people who are different to them, is they end up with people in their life who only have similar experiences and lifestyles. Meaning they think that everyone’s experience is the same as theirs. This can have a large scale effect leading to the spreading of misinformation (or fake news), social and political extremism or polarization and can prevent personal growth at an individual level.

We need to remind ourselves that life and the experience of life, is so different for every individual, depending on the walk of life they come from. As well as the magnitude of experiences differing between everyone.

Be considerate of everyone’s feelings.

This is something that personally I feel is common sense to do. However, the more I see people being biased and discriminating against others, it is clear they are not thinking of the other persons feelings or do not care.

As a lil Cancer baby, I have always been a very emotional and empathetic person, so thinking of other’s emotions, is something I always try to do. Sometimes the suspected ADHD brain and it’s the lack of impulse control comes in, and I blurt things out. However, these still tend to be considerate of others’ emotions, as this is pretty much my first point of call when I have a thought.

Ensure to think critically about your actions/emotions.

This is a skill that I personally am still developing. Critical thinking skills are not something that you learn without putting in effort, it is something that you have to consciously work on. When thinking about an action or response to something, it takes time and effort to think critically.

I am still learning to take the time to respond in heated situations to ensure I am not blurting something out, that has the potential to hurt someone. Instead focusing on getting my point across in the most succinct way, without causing any confusion.

Biases exist explicitly and implicitly.

When I was at university, we did a whole course which focused on perception and another one on social psychology. In these units I learnt so much about bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

When I was at university, two of the units I studied were perception and social psychology in which I learned a lot about bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

Learning about these taught me about implicit bias and explicit bias. Although explicit bias is apparent and clear to see – such as not hiring someone because of their race or gender – it is most often what we think of when we think of biases. Implicit bias – which is acting on a bias without intending to do so – runs rampant in our current social climate.

This can be making an assumption about the food someone likes based on their physical attributes or making the assumption that younger people will not able to afford a house because of their economic frivolity. There is a great test online which explores implicit bias and how our implicit bias can affect us! Here is the link of you feel inclined to do it! https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatouchtest.html

It is important to recognise or have people call us out when we are being implicitly biased and that is why it is so important to be critical of our thinking!

 

Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio

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