How correcting for cognitive biases makes life more fair

How much does cognitive bias change people's perception? Well, the history of computing would be a lot different.

How much does cognitive bias change people's perception? Well, the history of computing would be a lot different. And so would many major orchestras, who had to implement a curtain during auditions so that judges and orchestral directors could only judge musicians on their skills... and not their gender. Michael Li, PhD, is the founder of The Data Incubator, an education startup training STEM PhDs to be data scientists and quants.

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How you perceive your own weight may be a psychological illusion

Some people naturally believe they’re thinner than they really are. Here's how to tell if you're susceptible. 

Our body size has social implications, mostly self-imposed, which we generally focus on. But the truth is, there are all kinds of sizes within a spectrum that could be considered healthy. It’s the extreme wings of the spectrum, either remarkably skinny or obese, that are particularly dangerous for our health. Admittedly, there’s a growing worldwide obesity epidemic, meaning most people in developed countries end up on one particular side of the spectrum. Of course, many people could benefit from at least some form of weight loss. What can be a stumbling block, however, is how we perceive our own weight.

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Mind & Brain

Why you believe lies the more often you hear them

Here's why your brain’s biases are a win for fake news, and a pay day for Facebook.

Even if you think of yourself as a human lie detector, there are some untruths that will sneak under the hood. For that, you can thank your brain, and it's absolute adoration for all things familiar, says Derek Thompson, senior editor at The Atlantic. One of the oldest findings in psychology history is the 'mere exposure effect', in which merely being exposed to something makes you biased toward it—parents influence their children by playing certain music around the house that they will love their whole lives, or they instill a political preference in them from an early age. You are drawn to what you know, and that bias really matters when it comes to digital media and the fake news phenomenon. Once something becomes memorable, we tend to conflate familiarity with fact. "This is one of the big reasons why it’s difficult to myth-bust on television or myth-bust in journalism, because sometimes the mere repetition of that myth biases audiences toward thinking that it’s true..." says Thompson. "The mere exposure of news to us biases us toward thinking that that news item is true." Facebook has an enormous ethical responsibility in this, he says, because it is the world's largest and most influential news outlet—whether it intended to be or not. Thompson believes there is no algorithmic fix for fake news that spreads via Facebook, only a human one: "The answer to a problem of a lack of human ethics in information markets is the introduction of more humans and more ethics," he says. Derek Thompson's latest book is Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.

Mind & Brain

Diversity, stereotyping, success: Why being different at work is risky business

Stereotyping isn't about "bad people doing bad things." It's about our subconscious biases, and how they sneak into organizational structures.

Psychologist Valerie Purdie Greenaway is the first African American to be tenured in the sciences at Columbia University, in its entire 263 year history. Despite her celebrated position—and, in fact, perhaps because of it—she still struggles with perception, subtle stereotyping, and the enormous stakes of being one of few women of color in a leadership role. Here, Valerie Purdie Greenaway speaks with diversity and inclusion expert Jennifer Brown about being "the only" in a workplace, whether that is along lines of gender, race, culture, or sexual orientation, and how organizations and individuals can do more to recognize and address their biases. That also means letting go of the idea that stereotyping is a malevolent case of "bad people doing bad things." What does discrimination really look like day to day? Most of it is subconscious, subtle, and is deeply embedded into the structure of organizations, which can have an impact on performance, mentorship, and staff turnover. Do you recognize any of your own behavior in this discussion? This live conversation was part of a recent New York panel on diversity, inclusion, and collaboration at work.

Sex & Relationships

The Key Difference Between Men and Women's LinkedIn Profiles

In an analysis of more than 140 million of its U.S. members, LinkedIn identified a key difference between how men and women present themselves in their profiles.

C_osett via Flickr

After analyzing data from more than 141 million of its U.S. members, LinkedIn identified a key difference in the way men and women present themselves in profiles: Women promote themselves and their successes considerably less.

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Sex & Relationships