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Posted on August 17th, 2012, by

Consciously or not, people are susceptible to the influence of biases. Even if an individual believes that his mind is free of biases, in actuality, he can hardly keep from making decisions based on biases, because he can hardly distinguish a bias from his own logical judgment. Instead, an individual prefers to refer to his intuition rather than agree on the fact that his judgment is biased because a biased attitude is apparently the attitude based on the existing stereotypes and prejudices and, as the matter of fact, have little in common with objective judgments based on logical reasoning and empirical evidences. In such a context, the role of biases in the decision-taking process can hardly be underestimated.

First of all, it is important to underline that bias is a part of a culture. Regardless of the country or ethnic origin, an individual grows up and lives in a social group which has certain stereotypes and biases which are taken by the individual for granted from the beginning of his life, even though he does not empirically verified the extent to which his biases are justified. At this point, it is possible to speak about bias as a socio-cultural phenomenon, which is created by a social group on the ground of subjective judgments.

On the other hand, biases can be developed on the personal level, relatively independently from the social environment. An individual can have a negative experience which contributes to the formation of biases, which actually are nothing but subjective and unfair attitude of an individual grounded on his judgments or judgments of other people which he believes are right. However, the problem with the bias is the fact that bias can never be an objective judgment or attitude. Instead, it is rather an emotional and highly unfair and subjective judgment or attitude. For instance, if an individual suffers from problems with using products or services of a company, such as problems with the shipping a product ordered online, a person naturally develops bias in relation to the company which failed to deliver the product he ordered. On the grander scale, the individual may develop a biased attitude to online purchases at large, which, apparently, has nothing in common with the actual situation in e-commerce and online services, since there are reliable companies which can ship products in time and without any problems or inconveniences for customers. However, for the deceived individual, this objective truth is overshadowed by his negative experience and he is likely to refuse from using services of the company that failed to ship the product in time. In such a way, bias, being at first glance just an unfair attitude or judgment, extrapolates on the behavior of an individual and, thus, can define the behavior or even the lifestyle of individual.

The latter fact is particularly important in terms of the decision-making. To put it more precisely, in the contemporary business environment, the existence of biases refers to two domains of the decision-making. On the one hand, biases affect the consumer behavior and, thus, the existing biases ands stereotypes should be taken into consideration by decision-makers in order to achieve the set goals. On the other hand, decision-makers themselves are also susceptible to the influence of biases. Hence, they need to avoid the influence of their biases in order to make decision objectively on the basis of a logical, rational analysis of the market situation.

In such a context, it is very important to be able to distinguish bias when an individual encounters it. In fact, this is a very serious challenge because, as a rule, biases are perceived on the subconscious level. In other words, people are unaware of being biased. Nevertheless, it is possible to avoid biases by means of a careful analysis of the judgments of an individual and the decision which is about to be made. Therefore, when taking a decision, an individual needs to analyze his own ideas in regard to the assessment of the situation and existing variants of the decision. Obviously, if an individual is able to analyze objectively several variants of a decision, including the most improbable ones, he is likely to make the decision objectively, being free of biases. In order to ensure that a decision is unbiased, it is possible to ask for assistance of colleagues or, if necessary subordinates, to find out their opinion concerning the decision which the individual is going to make. Ideally, decisions should be made on the basis of consultations involving all people that are or will be affected by the decision. Such an approach provides ample opportunities to analyze the situation and make the decision objectively due to the pluralism of opinions and suggestions.

Thus, it is possible to conclude that biases produce a considerable impact on the decision-making process. At the same time, it is very important to avoid biases because they lead to unfair and unjust decisions being taken. Hence, decision makers should analyze objectively several decisions before choosing the most effective one, if necessary asking for the help of other people.

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