The perils of biased behavior and why we need to unlearn it | Inquirer Opinion

The perils of biased behavior and why we need to unlearn it

/ 05:01 AM February 04, 2022

Thanks to columnist Anna Cristina Tuazon for clinically dissecting how the power of bias is poised to determine the outcome of the May 2022 elections and our country’s destiny (“Bias goes both ways,” Safe Space, 1/26/2022). Unless we do something about it, it is a stark reminder that voters may be left with only their biases to base their votes on and polarize us more than we think they can. Interestingly, blinded by their bias against him as “only” a carpenter and son of Mary, many contemporaries of Jesus of Nazareth took offense of him and, as a result, sadly failed to decipher his exemplary track record and platform (Matthew 6:3).The article prompted me to wonder what we must do to reduce, if not get rid of, our discriminatory behavior. The answers to this simple question are important because what is at stake is our ability to choose the objectively most qualified candidate from among those who seek to lead our country for the next six years. Thankfully, there is Google Scholar, where articles exploring and offering solutions in the light of social science to reduce discriminatory behavior for or against someone or something are available.

First, Susan T. Fiske, a social psychologist well known for her research into bias, stereotypes, and prejudice, suggests that diversity education, economic opportunity, and constructive intergroup contact may reduce subtle and blatant bias. Second, Timothy D. Wilson, a social psychologist who has studied the subject extensively, found that controlling one’s exposure to biased information is a strategy for avoiding mental contamination as a source of the biased response. Finally, Allan Halcrow proposes six do-it-yourself steps to start breaking implicit bias patterns: 1) increase contact with people who are different from you; 2) notice positive examples; 3) be specific in your intent; 4) change the way you do things; 5) heighten your awareness; and 6) take care of yourself. All this shows that although biases may be difficult to unlearn, it is not impossible to overcome their adverse, although mostly unconscious, hold on our political behavior.

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Given the pivotal economic and political ramifications of the May 9, 2022 elections on our country’s future, the need to vote based on empirical evidence has hopefully become more apparent to those who would take their civic duty conscientiously. In that regard, it is time, as Winston Churchill put it, to brace ourselves up to our patriotic duty and bear that future generations will later say that the May 2022 elections were our finest hour as a people.

Noel G. Asiones, [email protected]

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