Are You Suffering from Unconscious Bias?
Women are humans, just like men. They are, on average, as loyal and as disloyal as men. Some women are willing to die to save those they love; others will stab their “friends” in the back; most have moments of loyalty and moments of disloyalty. As humans, we are rarely consistent.
We didn’t evolve to live in overpopulated communities, so our brains struggle to process data about the large mass of people we can meet throughout our day, week, month, year or lifetime.
Our species is adapted for life in small tribes, so we are swayed by small data sets that we then project that onto this gigantic population we now find in our communities.
Karen’s father cheated on her mother; then her brother cheated on his girlfriend. Then her boyfriend dumped her. She now distrusts all men. Not just men she considers dating, but men in the workplace as well.
Think about that: there are almost four billion men in the world and Karen has come to a conclusion about all of them based on her experiences with three before she turned eighteen. She has held onto this thinking and made choices that allow her to confirm her assumption into her 20s, 30s, 40s, etc..
She’s not stupid; she’s human.
Her thought process may be irrational, but it’s based on three men that were really important to her and caused her great pain. Many women come to distrust men and women via this same process, and we can find lots of social reinforcement. Then when we find other who will commiserate with us, this makes us even surer that men are bad news. We all know lots of great, trustworthy men that contradict this, but once a prejudice locks into our brain, it becomes non-falsifiable. When you meet a man, who is clearly untrustworthy, you naturally distrust him; when you meet one who seems trustworthy, you assume he’s hiding his untrustworthy nature.
We’ve evolved brain mechanisms that cause us to cling to our prejudices because doing so can give us a survival advantage.
So now that you’ve decided men are untrustworthy, your brain will work over time denying the contradictory evidence. It’s a form of self-preservation. If you let your guard down and start trusting men, you might get hurt. Your brain is telling you it’s better to unfairly mistrust some good men than to get burned by some bad ones.
We want to overcome this. We’re missing out on one of the best parts of being human–forming trusting bonds. There are some horrible men (and horrible women) in the world, so trusting involves risk. But there are many terrific people, and due to your prejudices, you may never get to know any of them. People tend to pick up on prejudice in others, and by being so mistrustful, you may create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Who trusts you and who do you trust? What unconscious bias are you holding onto that is based on limited data points?