Unconscious Biases


Psychologists define unconscious biases in terms of memories that people repress or drive out of consciousness but that continue to influence their lives in various ways—inexplicable fear of heights or closed spaces or spiders. For psychologists, unconscious biases are almost always pathological in some way.

Sociologists define unconscious biases in terms of cultural influences that people assume are normal because of how they were raised—racism, sexism, respect for authority, thriftiness. For sociologists, these biases can be positive—valuing hard work—or negative—valuing self-indulgence.

 Psychologists have never convincingly demonstrated the existence of their kinds of unconscious biases, but sociologists can easily demonstrate the effects of, for example, a good work ethic on a person’s income. The MVPI builds on this sociological model of unconscious biases. Peoples’ core values determine their behavior in ways that they often don’t realize. For leaders, core values shape what they pay attention to and what they ignore, the kinds of subordinate behavior of which they approve, or of which they disapprove. A person’s performance as a leader will be improved by some understanding of his/her unconscious biases.

Recognition: Wanting to be the center of attention, assuming that other people need attention as much as you do, and not understanding modesty.

Power: Wanting to win and make a difference, assuming that other people are as competitive as you, and disliking people who lack a winning attitude.

Hedonism: Wanting to have fun and share experiences, assuming that other people are as fun seeking as you, and not understanding people who are overly serious.

Altruism: Wanting to help those who are disadvantaged or victimized, assuming that others are as concerned about them as you, and not understanding the need for self-reliance.

Affiliation: Wanting opportunities to network, assuming that others want to interact as much as you do, and not understanding people who don’t want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
 
Tradition: Respecting hierarchy, rules, and tradition, assuming that others are as conservative as you, and disapproving of any kind of non-conformity.
 
Security: Disliking risk-taking and risky activities, assuming that others are as cautious as you, and not understanding people who enjoy uncertainty and like to test the limits.

Commerce: Wanting to acquire concrete symbols of success, assuming that others are as materialistic as you, and not understanding people who are indifferent to money.

Aesthetics: Wanting to be in attractive environments, assuming that others care as much about quality as you, and not understanding people who lack a sense of style.

Science: Wanting to solve problems with logic and data, assuming others care as much about finding the right answers as you, and not understanding irrational or intuitive decisions.