How to Recognize Cognitive Biases in the Workplace

How to Recognize Cognitive Biases in the Workplace


Our brains deal with the huge amount of information they get by taking mental shortcuts. These are known as "heuristics." Some heuristics accelerate thought processes by jumping into conclusions based upon previous experiences. Other factors affect how we process sensory information, such as recognizing that the outline that is in your eyes is a predator that's attacking. However, these shortcuts could lead our brains to make mistakes. This is particularly evident in optical illusions and sensory heuristics.

Cognitive biases result from misinterpretations and false assumptions that arise from the route our brains use when processing information or applying our past experiences to new circumstances. The consequences of cognitive biases in the workplace could range from irritation to total disruption.

Cognitive biases are so destructive that they could contribute to general mental health issues that affect employees, like anxiety, depression as well as addiction. Understanding the cognitive biases that affect us and the way they impact us is crucial to have an efficient workplace that is full of happy employees. Seek more insight from Top psychologists in India or get guidance from good Counselling psychologists to understand how cognitive bias affects us. You can consult an Online counsellor through online counselling at TalktoAngel to address your mental health concerns. You can also get advice from a good therapist by searching for the Therapist in delhi.

5 instances of cognitive bias in business and the difficulties they create

For the sake of simplicity, we've selected five pertinent instances of cognitive biases affecting the workplace.

  • Confirmation Bias: This happens when you have a deep-seated conviction that you focus only on evidence that confirms your belief. If confronted with contradictory data anyone who is struggling with confirmation bias is likely to ignore it completely, or alter their perception to confirm their beliefs.

One way that confirmation bias can affect the workplace is that it limits people's willingness to accept new ideas , especially when traditional methods of conducting business are so deeply embedded. 

  • Halo effect: This kind of cognitive bias is essentially when we associate positive characteristics with other positive traits and negative characteristics with negative traits. An example of this is that we are more likely to think the person is a decent person when we see them as attractive.

    When it comes to work, this could be a case of believing that those you are able to get along with are more trustworthy than colleagues you do not have contact with.  

  • False consensus bias: This happens when you believe that more people agree with you than they actually are. This type of cognitive bias in the workplace is something that managers have to be on guard for especially, due to their ability to make decisions. It doesn't matter if you listen to employees but do not take anything into consideration, or you decide to not take their advice completely and ignoring your employees since you believe that you are in control is a common managerial error.

  • Observer/actor bias: Put simply, we look differently when we look at things based on whether we're an actor as well as an observer. If you're angry with someone, you may think that you're having a bad day. However, if a person in a shop seems unfriendly to you, then you're more likely to believe that it's just their character. This is even extending to how we evaluate our co-workers in comparison to us. If you're on leave from your job, you're aware that you've needed it. If a coworker is doing the same, you may think that they're just skipping because of boredom. 

  • Dunning-Kruger Effect: This phenomenon happens when someone thinks they are aware of a subject from a superficial knowledge. Also, dumb people believe that they are clever, but recognizing the amount of information you're not aware of is a good sign that you're on the journey to understanding. Your company has experts to help you, and assuming that you don't require their help , it's a fast way to get into a shambles of things. For instance the CEO or HR director is deciding to use new technology with no consultation from IT. If you don't take advantage of their experience it is likely that you will just increase the workload by selecting a solution that's not efficient or compatible with your existing equipment. Keep in mind that a ten-minute Google search will never substitute for expert knowledge.

Ways to Manage Cognitive Bias

Our biases are an integral part of us. You should not fall into the trap of believing that you can remove biases completely. However, you can take steps to reduce the effects of cognitive bias. Let's look at the ways to detect cognitive bias and what you can do with that data:

  • Training on awareness: Teaching employees to be aware of their own biases is a great way to begin. Training exercises that incorporate feedback and education in order to challenge biases can cut down on the impact of biases by nearly three-quarters.

  • Inspire employees to question their beliefs: If you use any types of feedback regularly they are great ways to stimulate self-reflection. Managers must challenge assumptions of employees by asking questions; however, they should also demonstrate by exposing their own beliefs. You can also seek from top online counsellor by taking help from Employee Assistance Program of TalktoAngel, the best EAP provider in India.

Additionally, you may schedule an appointment with the top professional psychologists and receive Mental health counseling at the Psychowellness Centre, which has many locations in Delhi NCR, NOIDA, Faridabad, Janakpuri, Dwarka, and Vasant Vihar.

Contribution: Dr (Prof) R K Suri, Clinical Psychologist, life coach & mentor TalktoAngel & Mr. Utkarsh Yadav, Psychologist.