The Unconscious Bias and how you can halt it

Lately, a certain psychological trait has come to the forefront of ethical thinking regarding the workplace, and that is bias. It’s a concept that harbours negative connotations, ie. the favouring of one thing over another usually due to the feelings and/or motivations of a certain individual. Put simply, it’s basically a synonym for inequality. And in today’s modern, more politically-correct world, where equality has risen to the forefront of the political mind-set, it may seem that bias no longer has a place in our universal vocabulary.

But – and prepare for a bombshell – we’re all secretly bias. We all harbour our own unconscious biases, we all have our below-the-surface preferences and favourites, and we all occasionally judge our books by their covers – and despite the fact that these play a pretty big part in our everyday lives, we remain blissfully ignorant of them.

This unconscious bias can be connected to what psychologist Joseph LeDoux calls the unconscious ‘danger detector’ – our immediate instinctual assessment of whether or not a particular situation poses a threat to us. It’s essentially the ‘safe-not-sorry’ reflex. It’s why we duck when we see something speeding towards us, or why our attention is promptly caught when we hear a loud noise.

But the unconscious bias is more extensive than that. We don’t just judge the safety of situations – we assess the people around us as well, often basing these judgements on appearance, gender, and personality traits amongst other things. These judgements are, in turn, affected by our individual backgrounds, cultural environments and experiences as well as social ‘norms’ and stereotypes.

But we’re not aware of it, so it must be fine, right? Well, no… most likely not. Our unconscious influences behaviour, and while that behaviour might sometimes be productive and useful, it may sometimes be detrimental to our personal and working relationships.

As well as influencing our personal lives, the unconscious bias permeates into organisations and our working lives too. Consider this statistic: less than 15% of American men are over six-foot-tall, but nearly 60% of corporate CEOs are over six-foot-tall (Ross 2008). Clearly, the individual’s height is not officially considered during the application process, but this demonstrates the unconscious biased decisions about a person’s ability based on their unique on-the-surface attributes that can be and are made without this even being realised.

So where does PRINT® fit into all of this?

PRINT® cannot eliminate the unconscious bias, but it can influence how we respond to it and enable us to consciously and behaviourally control the behaviour it engenders so as to maximise our performance and approach in the workplace.

By using PRINT® to understand your own personal Unconscious Motivators® – which influence how you respond to specific situations and people – as well as those of your colleagues, you can alter your behaviour accordingly to avoid acting in line with personal judgements and in turn stimulate greater productivity and closer working relationships. Everyone is different, but PRINT® identifies these differences and can help you understand how to make them work together. It can pinpoint the things we may be good at and the situations in which we could thrive, looking past instinctive unconscious judgements to uncover a person’s hidden potential. And since an organisation’s primary attributes are its employees, their potential constitutes the building blocks of success!

PRINT® can help to encourage a more inclusive working environment – one in which people are able to identify and overcome their unconscious biases and generate more engaging, diverse and effective teamwork that achieves successful results.


For more information on how PRINT® could benefit yourself or your organisation, email, visit our website and social media (Facebook: @discoveryourprint, Twitter: @Discover_Print, LinkedIn: Print Profile Ltd) or sign up to our mailing list. If you’d like to bring PRINT’s benefits to organisations and businesses, we offer Accreditation courses enabling in-house coaches and learning & development professionals to become certified PRINT® coaches.