Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

314. Biases At Work – How We React To Others And Groups (Refreshed Episode)

It is common for organizations to say they want to remove all bias from their workplace, or to become a completely unbiased organization. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible because our brains run on bias in order to make decisions. Instead of trying to eliminate bias, it is best to understand and work with it. When we know what tendencies the brain will try to use and when/where they come into play, there is an opportunity to reframe and turn those biases into an engine for moving forward. This episode from Melina Palmer is an introduction to the many biases we have toward others who are not like us, including groups, to start you thinking about and understanding which biases exist and figure out how to start navigating them in your life and organization.

In this episode:

  • Hear a little bit about a lot of biases we humans have toward others. This includes both how we look at groups and how we perform inside them. 
  • Understand how those biases impact you and those in your life and work. 
  • Get some tips for starting to think about how to navigate these biases (since they can’t be eliminated).
  • Reframe your brain from “removing” bias, to leveraging and working with it.
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00:00:00 – Introduction,
In this episode, Melina Palmer introduces the topic of biases toward others, including groups. She mentions that this episode is a refresh of a previous episode and hints at an upcoming interview with Dr. Tessa West on dealing with difficult people at work.

00:03:16 – Groupthink,
Groupthink occurs when people in a group make irrational decisions to maintain harmony or avoid conflict. This can lead to poor decision-making and a lack of critical evaluation of different options or viewpoints. Melina shares an example of Amazon’s approach to combating groupthink by implementing a silent start to meetings.

00:06:29 – Shared Information Bias,
Shared information bias occurs when a group spends more time discussing topics that all members are familiar with, neglecting unshared information. This can hinder progress and prevent important topics from being addressed. Melina suggests encouraging group members to discuss difficult topics and avoid rehashing the same information.

00:07:36 – Bandwagon Effect,
The bandwagon effect refers to the tendency to do or say things just because everyone else is doing or saying them. This bias influences decisions such as following people on social media, listening to podcasts with positive reviews, or choosing restaurants with high ratings. Melina emphasizes the importance of building a social presence and gaining followers, even though the number of followers does not necessarily indicate quality.

00:09:48 – Cheerleader Effect,
The cheerleader effect is the tendency to think that a group looks more “attractive” (including its ideas) when there is a group than those individuals might appear on their own. This can also impact how someone feels about challenging or approaching a group instead of individuals.

00:16:18 – Stereotypes and Implicit Association,
Melina discusses how stereotypes and implicit association play a role in our thinking and decision-making process, particularly in relation to gender and job titles. She shares about some research being done at Texas A&M University in the Human Behavior Laboratory.

00:18:00 – Cognitive Bias and Prejudice,
Explores how cognitive bias and association can lead to prejudices, even when we are not consciously aware of them, and the potential impact this can have in various situations, including in HR scenarios.

00:20:07 – Fundamental Attribution Error,
Explores the concept of the fundamental attribution error, where we tend to attribute others’ behavior to their personality while attributing our own behavior to external factors, and the importance of considering different perspectives and giving the benefit of the doubt.

00:21:51 – Group Attribution Error,
This is where we tend to generalize the characteristics of one person to the entire group and assume that a group’s decision reflects the preferences of everyone in the group, highlighting the need to challenge these biases and consider individual differences.

00:23:10 – Halo Effect,
This is where one positive or negative quality of a person influences our perception of their other qualities, and the importance of avoiding generalizations and considering individuals as multidimensional beings.

00:33:15 – Biases in Interacting with Robots,
Due to form function attribution bias, people make systematic errors when interacting with robots, possibly due to intimidation or assuming robots think quicker. Biases and assumptions don’t reflect the function of the robot. Be aware of biases towards robots, animals, and others.

00:34:08 – Identifying Biases,
Spot biases in your life by identifying where you anthropomorphize or unfairly judge others. Consider if these biases are right or serving you, and who you may be inadvertently holding back or should give the benefit of the doubt.

00:36:24 – Avoiding Jerk Breeding Environments,
In Friday’s upcoming episode, Tessa West will discuss her book Jerks at Work, providing insights into different types of toxic coworkers and how to work better with them. She will also give tips for entrepreneurs to avoid creating a jerk breeding environment and talk about the role of incentives.

00:37:56 – Conclusion,
Melina’s top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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