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Attentional Bias

We pay more attention to some things than others.

What is it?

What we pay attention to affects our perception. Attentional Bias causes us to ignore certain elements when making decisions and pay attention to others. A person's internal state or external stimuli can cause Attentional Bias.

What impact does it have on our decisions and actions?

Human attention is a finite resource. It is only possible for us to focus on a few things at a given time. Ideally, we must examine all our options when we are making a decision. However, Attention Bias forces us to pay more attention to some factors and ignore others. We find it difficult to let go of distracting thoughts and end up overthinking them. Researchers established that Attention Bias leads to undesirable social tendencies like racial profiling and prejudice. For example, when analysing a person's behaviour, we tend to focus on the colour of their skin rather than on the merits of their behaviour.

How can we teach our students to avoid it?

Experts suggest mindfulness exercises to improve the quality of our attention. There is enough evidence to prove the impact of mindfulness exercises on Attentional Bias. We highly recommend that you teach mindfulness exercises to your students. Mindfulness exercises teach our students to pay attention to various details of their environment rather than what grabs their immediate attention. To overcome Attentional Bias, we must also unlearn some of our biases and beliefs. We must design our lessons to allow students to reflect on, evaluate, and modify their worldviews.


This post is from a #TeachwithInnerkern series.

Main Post: How can we help our students learn to avoid Cognitive Biases?

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