The way people take decisions, respond and even take action affects personal perceptions, backdrops and cultural contexts. This is achieved unconsciously, largely by socialization and alignment with the cultures of the community. This is also known as prejudice and grows in a person as soon as they start socializing in a certain group with a variety of people. Biases occur either unconsciously or in an active way. Biasis is secret. This paper is aimed at analysing social interaction bias, causes and consequences. Bias can be defined in a myriad of ways but it is connected to prejudice, favoritism, and partiality. The Merriam-Webster dictionary looks at bias as a tendency that prevents an unprejudiced consideration. Bias is also related to predilection, preference, and inclination towards a particular situation or person (Panucci and Wilkins 616). Using research as an anecdote, Forgas explains bias as a situation where observers use a patent characteristic to make conclusions on a variety of aspects (813). While confirming its existence in all aspects of life, Penton-Voak and his colleagues explain that bias is an aspect of always being inclined towards something. Bias is, thus, a formulaic and conventional conception of a person or a situation.
Sources of Bias
A major source of bias is the culture of an individual. During the early stages of development, a child meets and is socialized by relatives and close family. As explained by Forgas, bias in a child develops as early as in the age of three (2279). At this stage, a child is learning to socialize with the rest of the family and community. They learn to imitate behavior, mannerisms, and customs. For example, if a child is taught how to hate at this age, the behavior is ingrained in them and it remains even when they grow older. Cultural bias normally exists in an individual and it causes unconscious behavior and response (Forgas 2279).
Personal experiences normally impact the way an individual views a situation and perceives the most effective response. In their research, Kramer and Wilkins confirm that personal experiences determine the risks taken by individuals and their reasons for such actions (2280). A good example, in this case, is a fire incident victim who avoids anything that would require them to work with fire. The bad experience is like a learning opportunity. Whenever such an individual sees fire, they relate it to danger and pain and they will avoid going anywhere near the fire.
According to Forgas, peer pressure is a good source of bias (2279). For example, fashion in both women and men thrives because of peer pressure. Human beings will always strive to appear as the best and not backward in any way. Copying, imitating and emulating behaviors and mannerisms are all caused by bias. A good example, in this case, is a teenager opting to sag their trousers simply because it is the ‘thing’ and it is being done by the ‘cool kids’ in school. The bias here is a conscious one and it is created by the fact that ‘cool kids’ are always right.
Impact of Bias in Interaction
There is an almost indissoluble link between hidden biases and the actual behavior of an individual. In such instances, hidden biases are revealed through actions. Actions of this kind are evident in instances where any effort to control behavior consciously flags under relaxation, distraction, competition, and stress. According to Kramer and Ward, people unconsciously perform actions such as blinking, smiling and eye contact (2278). For example, people smile a lot to a person whom they believe they speak the same language or are of the same culture. This is largely common in cosmopolitan regions and especially in people who come from the same country or region (Kramer and Ward 2279).
Forgas focuses on the cognitive impact of bias also known as the halo effect and confirms that physical attractiveness is used as a yardstick to foretell sociable characteristics in a person (813). For example, people who are physically attractive have more friends simply because the existing cognitive bias delineates them as being more sociable. From the same standpoint, Kramer and Ward explain that people judge each other based on physical features and especially facial structure (2278). Thus people who are either beautiful or handsome make friends easily. A similar situation is experienced in research where Panucci and Wilkins confirm that respondents in any research cooperate when they view the researcher as attractive (620).
Gender bias affects the self-esteem of individuals as well as the response of other people. For instance, some religions advocate for submissiveness from women and thus females find it difficult to relate to males. Interaction for such females is limited to people from similar gender. According to Penton-Voak et al., gender bias also impacts the way people from various genders respond (610). For example, in a room full of males, a female’s opinion may be disregarded simply because of gender bias. If it is a work place, some genders are at an advantage when this form of bias is evident.
My Interest in Changing
It is obvious that personal perception is affected by bias. I understand that my cohesive impression of a situation or a person is largely impacted by bias. Some of these biases have been hardwired in my brain and this may cause a lot of problems. In lieu of the fact that I am already aware of its existence, I am inclined to take steps to overcome personal bias and affect positive changes in others. I will first begin by identifying the types of biases that affect my perception by taking tests such as the Implicit Association Test. This test is instrumental in the identification of the mental processes that create biases. It is easy to fix an error whose existence I can confirm.
Using the information obtained from bias tests, I plan on breaking predisposition unconsciously through the development of steps that I will use when making decisions. As aforementioned, biases are created by mental laziness which is alleviated through deliberation and thoroughness. Deliberation even when performing mundane tasks such as talking to a fellow colleague from a different country will go a long way in changing biased perception. When I get rid of mental laziness, I expect to make bias a mental residue in my perception of various situations, people, and circumstances in my life.
Forgas, Joseph P. She just doesn’t look like a philosopher…? Affective influences on the halo effect in impression formation. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41.2 (2011), 812–817.
Kramer Robin , and Ross Ward. Internal facial features are signals of personality and health. Qualitative Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63.11 (2010), 2273–2287.
Panucci, Christopher J, and Edwin Wilkins G. Identifying and avoiding bias in research. Plastic Reconstruction Surgery, 126.2 (2010), 619-625.
Penton-Voak Ian S, Nicholas Pound, Anthony Little C, David Perrett I. Personality judgments from natural and composite facial images: More evidence for a “kernel of truth” in social perception. Social Cognition, 24.5 (2006), 607–40.