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Posted on September 20th, 2012, by

Traditionally, people are influenced by biases and prejudices, but often they cannot logically explain what a bias is, but they can distinguish it when they see it. Obviously, such a paradoxical situation can be explained by the cultural traditions and human psychology which impose certain stereotypes and biases on an individual, which he believes to be true without even thinking about them. At the same time, an individual can be conscious of the fact that bias is unjust and unfair in its essence this is exactly what makes an individual be able to define bias when he sees. In such a context, the use of biases may be particularly significant for decision makers because they cannot ignore biases which produce a substantial impact on their decisions.

On analyzing the problem of the definition of bias, it is necessary to underline that traditionally people do not pay much attention to bias.

Moreover, they can even totally ignore until the moment when they clearly see that their bias does not actually match the objective reality.

What is meant here is the fact that often people have some biases, which they get used to perceive as true, reliable believes. For instance, an individual can have biases against the trip to an exotic country in Africa or Asia because he is convinced that countries in the third world are struck by poverty and they expose a traveler to numerous threats from being victimized by local offenders to catching a dangerous disease.

However, as an individual makes a trip to such a country or when he encounters another individual who has already made a trip to this country, he can learn that it is not as terrible as he used to be convinced before. To put it more precisely, in spite of the existing biases, an individual can learn that the risk of catching disease in an exotic country can be prevented by means of vaccinations and following basic rules of conduct, while the threat of crime may be not as significant as an individual used to think before. As a result, the individual understands that his original attitude to the exotic country was biased and has little in common with objective reality. Therefore, when an individual confronts the objective assessment of the situation and when he can see the gap between his biased attitude and the real situation he understands that he is influenced by biases, which are a priori unfair and highly subjective.

In such a context, biases play a particularly significant role in the process of decision-making. It is important to underline that effective decisions can never be taken on the ground of biases because the effectiveness of the decision can be measured by its acceptability by people which this decision affects directly or indirectly. It proves beyond a doubt that if a decision taken is biased than people are likely to oppose to this decision because the decision is unfair and, therefore, some people can disagree with it. For instance, many companies avoided investing in China, especially in the early 1990s because they viewed this country as unreliable and unpredictable. Therefore, they could not develop long-run strategies and invest money in China. However, in actuality, China proved to be more reliable and predictable country than foreign investors used to think and those who managed to overcome their biased attitude to China have started their business and achieved considerable success in this country developing business relations with this country. Today, this country is still attracting for foreign investors, though not all of them are still fully confident in the safety of their investments in China that means that they are still affected by biases. On the other hand, investments in China have already proved to be high efficient and the postponing a decision to invest in China or to move a production of clothes from the US to China, for instance, can have negative effects for the business because the failure to take the decision because of the existing bias prevents the company from a more effective development of business.

In stark contrast, when decision makers are confident of their biases or about biases that are dominating in the society, they are likely to use these biases for their own benefits. For instance, returning to the example of investments in China, it is possible to estimate that those investors who proved to be free of biases and who were first to invest in China have managed to achieve tremendous success and gained the leading position not only on the local but also international markets, especially in the apparel industry. Therefore, overcoming biases is very important for the decision-making process.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that biases existed always and they influenced the behavior of people and the decisions they took. However, today, it is very important for a decision maker to overcome biases in order to take effective decisions.

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