Have you ever noticed the weird thing that happens when you decide to buy a new car? No sooner do you pick the brand, model, and color that you start noticing that exact car everywhere you go. Aggravating, isn’t it? Here you put all this effort into figuring out what vehicle is unique to you only to realize that they aren’t so unusual after all. Darn!
The reason we suddenly begin to see our desired car everywhere is that we now care about it – it is now important in our lives. The fancy term for this mental phenomenon is “saliency determination.” We have now determined that that dark blue SUV in that particular model is salient to our lives so our brain seeks out every example it can find.
This trick of the brain may be aggravating when it comes to buying a new car, but its good news when we are talking about reducing biases. In this case, what we need to care about – and then notice – is the things that all human beings have in common. As Maya Angelou said – “In minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same.” This does not mean that we stop valuing differences; indeed valuing differences and identifying what we share are two sides of the same inclusion coin.
By noticing how we are alike, we automatically begin to see people as individuals with unique characteristics rather than merely as members of a group different from ourselves about whom we may have a bias. This principle may seem mysterious or like magic, but it really is a matter of how the brain and human psychology works.
Sondra Thiederman can be contacted for virtual presentations and panel participation by e-mailing her here or calling 619-583-4478. For additional information, go to the Meet Sondra page on this site.
© copyright 2014 Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.
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