Understanding different types of bias — Conscious inclusion - Equality, diversity and inclusion - About (2023)


In this section we will look at some of the different types of bias, at what the consequences of these can be in the workplace and at the ways to avoid them.


Affinity bias

Affinity bias can occur when we prefer people who share similar qualities to ourselves.

Affinity bias in the workplace

Affinity bias can sometimes be in play when an organisation recruits someone they like and know will get along with the team. Affinity bias can influence a recruitment decision when the decision is to recruit someone who shares similar interests, experiences and backgrounds to the recruiters. This does not necessarily help produce a diverse team that will bring in different ways of thinking and represent a wide range of viewpoints.While similarities should obviously never disqualify a candidate, they should not be the deciding factor either.

According to the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) Workforce Evaluation (2019), in 2016, in the average trust, white staff were 69% more likely than Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff to be appointed from a shortlist. While by 2018 this figure had improved and reduced to 56%, it is still high.

Ways to avoid affinity bias

Actively take note of the similarities you share with the candidate so that you can differentiate between attributes that may influence your judgement and the concrete skills, experiences and unique qualities that could contribute to your team as a ‘culture add’ rather than a ‘culture fit’.


Attribution bias

Attribution bias can sometimes be involved in the way that we understand and make sense of our own and other’s actions. People constantly make attributions – judgements and assumptions about why other people behave in certain ways. However, some attributions do not always accurately reflect reality and these attributions can introduce bias into decision-making.

(Video) Unconscious Bias @ Work - Diversity & Inclusion Training

Attribution bias in the workplace

During recruitment, attribution bias can be involved if recruiters make decisions about candidates where they attribute something unusual or potentially problematic about their application or behaviour as being an inherent feature of their personality or indeed of their gender, ethnicity or other ‘protected characteristic’. We might find attribution bias at play when an employee is treated differently because they do not approach a task in the same way as other people in the department and when this difference is negatively attributed to some ‘quality’ possessed by the employee.

Ways to avoid attribution bias

Do not rush your judgements. Take time to reflect on the assumptions you are making about people. Ask colleagues to outline and detail the reasons behind decisions they are proposing. Give candidates or employees a chance to share their full story with you before making your judgements.


Beauty bias

Beauty bias can exist if we find that we prefer people we perceive as beautiful and if we are making judgements based on appearances and are judging others harshly based on their appearance.

Beauty bias in the workplace

Professor Rachel Gordon from the University of Illinois in Chicago conducted some research into the connection between conventional physical attractiveness and the accumulation of social and human capital in young adults. One facet of the research indicated that conventionally ‘attractive’ people, both men and women, earn higher incomes, whereas ‘less attractive’ people earn lower incomes. This is perhaps also an example of attribution bias whereby ‘attractive’ people are viewed as more social, happy and successful.

Ways to avoid beauty bias

You should create structured recruiting and interviewing processes so that your team will be able to compare applications and interviews equally to reduce the risk of bias. Having an initial phone screening rather than a video call or in-person interview can also help as well as utilising carefully designed, explicit scoring measures to identify top candidates.


Conformity bias

Conformity bias can take place in situations where, in order to be accepted by a social group, people will tend to agree with the views of the majority within the group regardless of what they might think on an individual basis.

Conformity bias in the workplace

When your recruitment panel get together to review a candidate’s application and conduct an interview, conformity bias can cause individuals to sway their opinion of a candidate to match the opinion of the majority. The problem with conformity bias is that the majority is not always right, which may result in your team missing out on an excellent candidate because individual opinions become weakened in a group setting. Conformity bias can also take place where people agree with those individuals who have more power in a group. For example, in team meetings where one individual may hold the power and influence and others in the team feel some pressure to agree with the opinion of this powerful individual.

Ways to avoid conformity bias

Before a recruitment panel gets together to review a candidate, they could all write down their own opinion and submit this immediately after the interview ends. Then the panel could come together and review what everyone wrote down so that everybody’s independent opinions can be seen and heard. In a team meeting situation, ensure everyone’s opinions are encouraged and invited and are considered. Use technology to collect opinions anonymously.

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Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias can happen when we look for, or give greater weight to, evidence that confirms our views and experiences. This can lead to selective observation and us not seeing or valuing evidence that contradicts our beliefs.

Confirmation bias in the workplace

Confirmation bias can play a role at the very beginning of the recruitment process when you first review an application form and you form an initial opinion of the candidate based on attributes like where they’re from, where they went to school or university, or if they have a similar interest to you etc. This opinion you have of the candidate can follow you into the interview process and consequently steer questions to confirm the initial opinion you had of the candidate. This kind of effect can follow the candidate all the way through their career within an organisation, with them being treated more favourably, thus making it easier for them to be successful. Confirmation bias is an example of a bias that is based on ‘culture fit’. According to the Harvard Project Implicit study, black people are more likely to face scrutiny over performance and ‘culture fit’.

Ways to avoid confirmation bias

While every interview will lend itself to a unique conversation based on the individual’s background, it’s important to ask standardised skills-based questions that provide each candidate with a fair chance to stand out. This will help prevent your team from asking too many off-the-cuff questions that may lead to confirmation bias.

Give everyone in the organisation an equal opportunity to progress with equal access to good coaching and mentoring, not just certain people who share your opinions and experiences. Consider opportunities equally for black and ethnic minority staff. They should not feel like they have a once in a lifetime chance to prove themselves and that if it goes wrong there won’t be another. Give them the treatment you should give to all staff so that they have chances to learn and improve and progress.


Gender bias

Gender bias, as the term suggests, occurs where decisions are based on a preference for a particular gender, often based on stereotypes and deep-seated beliefs about gender roles.

Gender bias in the workplace

Gender bias is at play when one gender is given preferential treatment over another in the recruitment process or in the workplace. An example of this is when it was reported that ten NHS organisations in England had a median hourly pay gap that favoured men, with the gap ranging from 0.1% of median hourly pay to 52.5%. According to Harvard Business School women don’t apply for jobs that they are not 100% qualified for but men are more likely to apply for jobs that they are not qualified for. According to this research, women apply for jobs when they meet 100% of the criteria, while men apply if they meet just 60%. The Harvard Business School survey also found that women tend to get less credit for success and more blame for failure and that 49% of women felt disadvantaged in their career due to their gender as opposed to 4% of men.

Ways to avoid gender bias

Conduct blind screenings of applications that exclude aspects of a candidate that may reveal their assumed gender, like name and interests. Set diversity recruitment goals to ensure your company holds itself accountable to equitable recruitment practices. And again, make sure to compare candidates based on skill and merit rather than traits that can cloud your judgement of them.


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The halo effect

The halo effect can introduce bias into decision-making when you focus solely on one great feature about an individual and ignore everything else.

The halo effect in the workplace

The halo effect can come into play at any stage of the recruitment process. For example, it could be in play when you see a candidate who may have worked at a highly-regarded company or may have graduated from a certain university and you judge the candidate heavily on the merit of their university or past place of work rather than their skills or other aspects of their application.

Ways to avoid the halo effect

The halo effect can be dangerously blinding when it comes to reviewing candidates. When reviewing a stack of applications, you are probably looking for something unique that makes a candidate stand out from the rest. When you do this, also consider the candidate without that one gleaming attribute and who may not have had the same privileges or opportunities as other candidates and think about how their experiences, skills and personalities combine together compared to other candidates.


The contrast effect

The contrast effect can introduce bias when judgements are made based on a comparison between people rather than assessing people individually on their own merits.

The contrast effect in the workplace

This is one of the most common types of bias in the recruitment process. When you’re reviewing loads of candidates, it can be easy to compare one application to the next in the stack and therefore not see the individual merits of applications. Similarly, an exceptionally good interview with one candidate may make it harder for recruiters to judge the very next candidate with fresh, fair independent eyes.

Ways to avoid the contrast effect

Create the application review and interview processes so that individual judgements against structured criteria have to be explicitly made, so that interviewers are not making judgements and scoring candidates on impressions. A similar approach should also be taken for performance reviews and rewards for individual employees to remove impressionistic decision-making from those processes.



Ageism is when is an individual is negatively discriminated against because of their age.

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Ageism in the workplace

Ageism can affect both young and older people. It can sometimes be more difficult for individuals to change careers later on in life as recruiters may want new talent and not want to recruit someone who is older. That would be one example of ageism at work. At the same time, younger people might be suitably qualified but find it hard to get a senior role because they look too young or are assumed not to be capable of a role because of their age.

Ways to avoid ageism

Train your recruitment team members to understand the issue of ageism and keep age diversity at the top of your mind when recruiting new talent.


Name bias

A name bias occurs is when an individual is negatively discriminated against because of their name.

Name bias in the workplace

Name bias can exist in the recruitment process. For example, a field experiment in the US by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, where they submitted fictitious CVs to wanted ads, where each resume was assigned either a very African American sounding name or a very white sounding name, found that white names receive 50% more call-backs for interviews than African American names. The Harvard Project Implicit study also found that replacing an ‘international’ name with an English name increased candidates’ chances of being hired.

Ways to avoid name bias

Omit the candidate’s name and personal information from the application information that is reviewed by the recruitment team at the shortlisting stage. This will ensure that the recruitment team is selecting candidates based on their skills and experiences without the influence of irrelevant personal information.


Conscious Inclusion by National School of Healthcare Science is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


What are the 3 types of bias? ›

Three types of bias can be distinguished: information bias, selection bias, and confounding. These three types of bias and their potential solutions are discussed using various examples.

What is the definition of bias in diversity and inclusion? ›

Bias is a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another usually in a way that's considered to be unfair. Biases may be held by an individual, group, or institution and can have negative or positive consequences.

What is bias of inclusion? ›

Simply put, bias is what happens in our own brains, while feelings of inclusion or exclusion are what happens in other people's brains. And yet, organizations reportedly spend billions on diversity training, often in the hopes their employees will start including more.

What are the different types of biases one encounters in the workplace? ›

Types of Workplace Bias
  • Confirmation Bias. Everyone has pre-existing beliefs and principles that affect judgment. ...
  • Similarity-Attraction Bias. This type of unconscious bias can be difficult to identify. ...
  • Conformity Bias. ...
  • Affinity Bias. ...
  • Contrast Effect. ...
  • Halo and Horns Effect. ...
  • Attribution Bias. ...
  • Illusory Correlation.

What are the 3 types of implicit bias? ›

Types of Implicit Bias

Among the various implicit biases prevalent throughout society are some such as race and ethnicity bias, age bias, gender bias, LGBTQIA+ community bias, and ability bias.

What are the 4 types of bias? ›

4 leading types of bias in research and how to prevent them from impacting your survey
  • Asking the wrong questions. It's impossible to get the right answers if you ask the wrong questions. ...
  • Surveying the wrong people. ...
  • Using an exclusive collection method. ...
  • Misinterpreting your data results.

What are the five 5 common types of biases? ›

5 Biases That Impact Decision-Making
  • Similarity Bias. Similarity bias means that we often prefer things that are like us over things that are different than us. ...
  • Expedience Bias. ...
  • Experience Bias. ...
  • Distance Bias. ...
  • Safety Bias.
Feb 25, 2021

What are the 6 main types of biases in design? ›

Types of biases in design
  • Recency Bias — This is a type of Bias which happens when we see a lot of things together but are able to memorize or remember only the latest of the objects or places. ...
  • Primacy Bias — ...
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy — ...
  • Confirmation Bias — ...
  • False Consensus Bias — ...
  • Implicit Bias —
Sep 24, 2021

What is bias and why is it important? ›

Bias is often characterized as stereotypes about people based on the group to which they belong and/or based on an immutable physical characteristic they possess, such as their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. This type of bias can have harmful real-world outcomes.

Which is the best definition of bias? ›

Britannica Dictionary definition of BIAS. 1. : a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly.

What is conscious bias in the workplace? ›

This type of bias is processed neurologically at a conscious level as declarative, semantic memory, and in words. Conscious bias in its extreme is characterized by overt negative behavior that can be expressed through physical and verbal harassment or through more subtle means such as exclusion.

What are the 7 sources of bias? ›

Rethinking research assessment: 7 sources of bias to watch out for at your institution
  • Campbell's Law. ...
  • Matthew effect. ...
  • Anchoring. ...
  • Halo effect. ...
  • Availability. ...
  • Confirmation bias. ...
  • Status quo bias.
Mar 16, 2021

What is the meaning of conscious bias? ›

Conscious Bias: Biased attitudes about a group we are aware of; can be (in)visible; can be accessed. Unconscious Bias: Biased attitude operating outside your awareness and control, are difficult to access or be aware of, & influence your action more than conscious biases.

What are the 3 principles of inclusion? ›

Three Principles for Inclusive Learning Design
  • Principle 1. Understand Your Learners and Organizational Culture.
  • Principle 2. Design Authentically.
  • Principle 3. Leverage Technology.
  • Advancing Toward D&I.
Dec 29, 2020

What are the four 4 key elements of inclusion? ›

There are four key features of inclusion which can be used to set expectations and evaluate inclusive practice in schools and early learning and childcare settings. These are present, participating, achieving and supported.

What is an example of cultural bias in the workplace? ›

Examples of cultural bias in the workplace include assuming that all Asians are good at math. If a manager sees John as an Asian person who is good with numbers but not people, he may never be given the opportunity to develop his people skills and he may eventually leave the company due to lack of opportunities.

Can you have 3 biases in a group? ›

Bias Lines

Don't forget, it's perfectly okay to have more than one bias. Biases are the members you can connect with, and in the larger groups especially, it's easy to love more than one member.

What are the different levels of bias in an organization? ›

People perennially navigate three categories of bias: cognitive, social and institutional. Each category interacts with and reinforces the other.

How many different biases are there? ›

In total, there are over 180 cognitive biases that interfere with how we process data, think critically, and perceive reality.

How many common biases are there? ›

50 Types of Common Cognitive Biases. Fundamental Attribution Error: We judge others on their personality or fundamental character, but we judge ourselves on the situation. Self-Serving Bias: Our failures are situational, but our successes are our responsibility.

What are the 5 steps in recognizing biases? ›

  1. Purpose. ...
  2. Design/methodology/approach. ...
  3. Findings. ...
  4. Practical implications. ...
  5. Social implications. ...
  6. Originality/value.
Oct 10, 2016

What is an example of bias? ›

Biases are beliefs that are not founded by known facts about someone or about a particular group of individuals. For example, one common bias is that women are weak (despite many being very strong). Another is that blacks are dishonest (when most aren't).

Why is bias important in the workplace? ›

Biases Prevent Diversity and Culture in the Workplace

Unconscious biases influence people's actions which can prevent diverse cultures from entering the workplace. So understanding and tackling these cultural issues in the workplace are important.

How does bias affect the workplace? ›

Unconscious bias can impact workplace decisions by influencing hiring processes, workplace relationships, lack of workplace diversity as well as opening the risk for discriminating against others.

Why is it called a bias? ›

Origin of the word

In the 1560s and 1570s, the game of bowls adopted bias as a technical term to refer to balls that were weighted on one side, so that they curved when bowled. In due course, bias acquired a legal definition and came to mean 'prejudice'.

What are the causes of bias? ›

Common Causes Of Bias
  • Our personal experiences and upbringing.
  • The experiences of others, like our parents and friends.
  • The cultures we live in and what is considered normal.
  • The information we process (media)
  • Our education systems and what they value.

What does bias information mean? ›

Information bias is a type of error that occurs when key study variables are incorrectly measured or classified. Information bias can affect the findings of observational or experimental studies due to systematic differences in how data is obtained from various study groups.

What does conscious inclusion mean? ›

Conscious inclusion is more than just being aware of your unconscious biases. It's about taking action to consciously build a culture where everyone feels included. You may have heard about unconscious bias, how it affects everyone, in different ways and in different situations.

How do you address conscious bias? ›

10 Steps to Eliminate Unconscious Bias
  1. Learn what unconscious biases are. ...
  2. Assess which biases are most likely to affect you. ...
  3. Determine how biases are likely to affect your company. ...
  4. Train employees to identify and combat bias. ...
  5. Modernize your hiring process. ...
  6. Let data inform your decisions.
Sep 11, 2018

What is an example of conscious? ›

I'm very conscious of my weight. He is acutely conscious that this transition will bring with it the risk of social unrest. I don't think we ever made a conscious decision to have a big family. Make a conscious effort to relax your muscles.

What does conscious mean in simple words? ›

awake, aware of what is happening around you, and able to think: She's out of surgery but not fully conscious yet.

What is an example of conscious awareness? ›

Conscious awareness is a twofold state of being, in which the mind is both awake as well as cognizant of its surroundings. Like in the classic example of a square is always a rectangle but a rectangle is not always a square, a mind can be consciously aware but it cannot be aware without also being conscious.

What are the 7 principles of inclusion? ›

What are the 7 Pillars of Inclusion?
  • ACCESS. Access explores the importance of a welcoming environment and the habits that create it. ...
  • ATTITUDE. Attitude looks at how willing people are to embrace inclusion and diversity and to take meaningful action. ...
  • CHOICE. ...
  • POLICY. ...

What are the 6 elements of successful inclusion? ›

6 Steps for Building an Inclusive Workplace
  • Educate Your Leaders.
  • Form an Inclusion Council.
  • Celebrate Employee Differences.
  • Listen to Employees.
  • Hold More-Effective Meetings.
  • Communicate Goals and Measure Progress.
Mar 19, 2018

What are the 7 pillars of inclusion? ›

7 Pillars of Inclusion
  • Choice.
  • Partnerships.
  • Communications.
  • Policies.
  • Opportunities.
  • Access.
  • Attitude.

What are the five elements of inclusion? ›

These elements are relationships, advocacy, a sense of identity, shared experiences, and transparency. Each of these elements work to strengthen the effort to develop inclusion in schools and communities.

What are the 5 dimensions of diversity and inclusion? ›

Learn more about specific dimensions of diversity:

Education. Ethnicity & National Origin. Gender & Gender Identity. Immigration Status.

What are the 5 Principles of an inclusive leader? ›

Through our research, we have identified five inclusive leadership mindsets that shape behaviors: self-awareness, curiosity, courage, vulnerability, and empathy. These mindsets are critical for leaders' ability to create an environment where all employees feel respected, valued, and able to contribute their best work.

Why is it important to be aware of cultural biases? ›

By being culturally aware, we can recognize and have an appreciation for other's values, customs, and beliefs and meet them without judgment or prejudice. When we are culturally aware we can know what is considered inappropriate or offensive to others. Incorrect body language often leads to misunderstandings.

What are some examples of positive bias? ›

There are tons of examples of a positivity bias that you might recognize, such as: When remembering the first date with your spouse, you think about the excitement and how well you got along rather than how nervous you were or how awkward the conversation was at times.

How do you address cultural bias in the workplace? ›

Avoid the dangerously reductive effects of cultural bias in the workplace.
How to be sensitive to different cultures
  1. Be aware of your own biases and prejudices. ...
  2. Notice the little things. ...
  3. Communication is key. ...
  4. Be flexible. ...
  5. Be yourself!
Sep 16, 2018

What are the main types of bias? ›

  • Affinity bias. Affinity bias can occur when we prefer people who share similar qualities to ourselves. ...
  • Attribution bias. ...
  • Beauty bias. ...
  • Conformity bias. ...
  • Confirmation bias. ...
  • Gender bias. ...
  • The halo effect. ...
  • The contrast effect.
Oct 13, 2022

What are the most common types of biases? ›

Some examples of common biases are:
  • Confirmation bias. ...
  • The Dunning-Kruger Effect. ...
  • In-group bias. ...
  • Self-serving bias. ...
  • Availability bias. ...
  • Fundamental attribution error. ...
  • Hindsight bias. ...
  • Anchoring bias.
Jun 7, 2021

How do you avoid group bias? ›

How to reduce in-group bias
  1. 🔍 Take an outside view. To help yourself reduce your in-group bias, put your shoes in those outside your immediate viewpoint. ...
  2. 🤔 Use prospective hindsight. Instead of waiting for a postmortem to understand the cause of a past failure, imagine your possible routes. ...
  3. 📣 Ask for advice.
May 8, 2020

What are the 3 types of bias that can influence a science experiment? ›

Three types of bias that often occur in scientific and medical studies are researcher bias, selection bias and information bias. Researcher bias occurs when the researcher conducting the study is in favor of a certain result.

What are the six common types of bias? ›

We've handpicked six common types of bias and share our tips to overcome them:
  • Confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when data is analysed and interpreted to confirm hypotheses and expectations. ...
  • The Hawthorne effect. ...
  • Implicit bias. ...
  • Expectancy bias. ...
  • Leading Language. ...
  • Recall bias.

What is bias in the workplace? ›

Bias in the workplace is the purposeful or accidental assumptions made when hiring candidates, delegating tasks or comparing employees in other ways.

What is an example of cultural bias? ›

Some cultures perceive certain hand gestures or prolonged eye contact as a sign of disrespect, whereas other cultures may assume that those who do not shake hands or look into someone's eyes are being rude or evasive.

What are methods of bias? ›

Method bias is a term that refers to the problems resulting from the way that an assessment is administered, the incomparability of the samples used and the inequality produced by the specific instrument's characteristics.

What are common examples of bias in research? ›

Examples include the phrasing of questions in surveys, how participants perceive the researcher, or the desire of the participant to please the researcher and to provide socially desirable responses. Response bias also occurs in experimental medical research.


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