We all make assumptions. We assume something will happen, and we make plans around that assumption. Some call it hope. “Let’s assume it will rain this afternoon and take the umbrella”, could also be “Let’s hope it doesn’t rain, but we will take the umbrella just in case”.
Some of us might call it “good planning”, “hoper-groping”, “plan for the worst, hope for the best”. Or is it that we are unsure and unwilling to take a gamble? A risk.
Is it experience influencing our actions: “the sky is overcast, and a very dark gray. The last time I saw this it rained for hours.”. Can we be wrong? Yes. We could be correct too.
Or is it bias? Maybe even unconscious bias.
Bias is, according to the Merrimack-Webster dictionary “an inclination of temperament or outlook,” and “a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : PREJUDICE”.
Prejudice is a strong word. When you haven’t had your first cup of coffee, it can be hard to type.
Bias occurs when we decide something is different than we are, and we choose to act on that bias by treating someone differently because of it. The real problem is our unconscious bias. The only difference is, we make a conscious decision to behave differently in the former, and do it without thinking in the latter. And unconscious bias is more insidious, because we may not even realize we are doing it, even though others are.
Unconscious bias lies at the root of many assumptions, especially about people. In my opinion, unconscious bias is the root of prejudice: we have opinions and decisions made before we even meet the other person. For example, when we see someone in a wheelchair, do we act differently around them as a result? Do we assume they are not as able or as smart as we are just because they are in a wheelchair? Maybe you said “no” to that example, but I guarantee you are thinking of one similar to that where yo do behave differently.
All of us have unconscious bias. We learned it. Things like:
- people with lots of tattoos are evil;
- black people are second class people;
- left handed people are weird;
- people with disabilities are less able and need more help to make it in the world;
- people who are different from me are just wrong;
- people who can sing are smarter;
- blond women are inherently dumb; or