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Posted on September 20th, 2012, by

The human perception of the surrounding world, events and issues, which constitute an essential part of human life, are often affected by biases and prejudices which dominate over human consciousness and reason. At the same time, human biases have nothing in common with the real word and often they have no logical ground. What is meant here is the fact that people believe in their biases and they cannot think reasonably because they believe their biases are a kind of the absolute truth which cannot be challenged or argued, while, in actuality, biases are often wrong and they are based on subjective judgments of individuals that were formed under the impact of a dominant culture or cultural traditions which an individual has learned since early childhood. Therefore, it is obvious that biases cannot be justified and it is very important to de-bias human consciousness and perception of the surrounding world because biases affect consistently human behavior that may lead to conflicts between people which are caused by their biases. In this respect, it is possible to refer to works of Bazerman and Gladwell who have revealed a significant impact of biases on the process of decision making and human behavior at large. On the other hand, it is necessary to underline that often people are unconscious of the fact that they are influenced by their own biases. In such a context, people need to be able to distinguish biases and avoid making biased judgments or take decisions based on biases.

In order to verify whether human perception is biased and to reveal the extent to which people are biased, I have decided to use het Abled-Disabled IAT, the test which could have helped me to reveal whether subjects, who pass this test, are biased in their attitude to disabled people or not. At the same time, it was also very important to me to reveal whether they realize that their attitude is biased and what actually the reason of a biased attitude is, if there is any. In terms of this test, I involved three individuals, two males, at the age of 19 and 32, and a female, at the age of 21. In fact, they were not proficient in IAT, but, nevertheless, I attempted to assist them in passing the test or, to put it more precisely, in interpreting its results.

On analyzing the answers together with subjects of the test, I have revealed the fact that they are, to a significant extent, influenced by the existing cultural norms. Some of the subjects were simply unfamiliar with one of the groups, namely, disabled group of people that naturally influenced their answers. In actuality, they viewed disabled people as rather an exceptional group because they rarely encountered disabled people in their everyday life and they did not have any health problems themselves nor their relatives or friends were disabled people. In such a way, they lived in an ďabledĒĚ environment, where people were poorly informed about the life of disabled people and their problems.

No wonder, results of the test revealed the fact that the subjects of the test had either strong automatic preference for abled people compared to disabled people or they had moderate automatic preference for abled people compared to disabled people. In fact, such results were apparently affected by the environment of subject and they agreed that the dominant culture influenced their responses as well as perception of ability and disability.

At the same time, the subjects were quite surprised to reveal the fact that they had rather biased attitude to and view of disabled people. Initially, they believed they were tolerant people and even their responses reveal the fact that they attempted to treat abled and disabled people as equal. But the results of the test revealed a significant of biases on their perception of disabled people, who are viewed by the subjects as a deviation from a norm, while abled people are perceived as a model.

However, in actuality, due to the technological and scientific progress, many disabled people can perform the same tasks and functions as abled people do. I attempted to reveal this fact to the subjects and they basically agreed with my arguments in favor of the equality of abled and disabled people, though they could not keep from admitting the fact that disability imposes certain limitations on the life of disabled person. Moreover, two of three subjects remarked that the test eye-opening to the extent that they started to view the problem of disabled people more seriously than they used to do before. In addition, the subjects agreed that their views were biased and they have little in common with the actual situation and position of abled and disabled people in the modern world.

In this respect, it should be said that their view on their own biases has changed particularly significant after I distributed the rewritten version of the quiz. In fact, they were surprised to be as biased as that, but they argued that their biases could be justified by the influence of modern culture and, what is more, they admitted that it is very difficult to get rid of biases, especially when they are not aware of their existence.

Thus, on analyzing the outcomes of the test and reactions of the subjects, it is possible to conclude that human perception and views can be biased. But the existence of the biases is not always evident to people. Instead, they believe they are absolutely objective and independent in their judgments. However, in actuality, they need to be aware of their biases and they need to be able to think critically and evaluate their own views and beliefs in order to get rid of biases and prejudices.

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