Colegio Félix de Jesús Rougier
Colegio Felix de Jesus Rougier - Noticias
NOTICIAS
HOW YOUR BRAIN CAN TRICK YOU INTO TRUSTING PEOPLE
Tim Herrera
Smarter Living Editor

“Unconscious bias” may sound like one of those ambiguously scientific terms that make our eyes glaze over and our brains tune out. But once your eyes are opened to it, you can see how it affects almost every part of your life.
Our unconscious biases are the shortcuts our brains take to reach certain conclusions. For example, when you see a completely empty subway car, your brain might assume it’s empty for a reason and send you rushing to the next one. In general, these mental leaps are essential: Imagine if you had to analyze every single sensory stimulus your brain took in, and then base decisions off those analyses.
There’s a darker side of this process, however: Certain cultural biases can become encoded in our brains without our even knowing, leading us to draw conclusions that can be inaccurate, incomplete or sometimes harmful.
For example, research has shown that in group-work settings, instead of determining whether a given person has genuine expertise we sometimes focus on proxies of expertise — the traits and habits we associate, and often conflate, with expertise. That means qualities such as confidence, extroversion and how much someone talks can outweigh demonstrated knowledge when analyzing whether a person is an expert.
In other words, your brain can instinctively trust people simply because they sound as if they know what they’re talking about.
Khalil Smith at Strategy & Business wrote a fascinating story on the topic a few months ago, in which he cited a study that showed that “airtime” — how much someone talks — “is a stronger indicator of perceived influence than actual expertise.”
Put another way, “Whom we trust is not only a reflection of who is trustworthy, but also a reflection of who we are,” researchers wrote in a 2011 study that examined how our unconscious biases affect which people we choose to trust.
As with many of our behaviors we can’t see ourselves, knowing that we are vulnerable to this trap is the first step toward overcoming it. But we can also train ourselves to be more attentive to signs that we’re placing trust in someone just because we perceive them to be trustworthy or knowledgeable.

Most important: Learn to catch yourself and take a step back when you notice that you’re going along with people who only feel authoritative — either because they project confidence or dominate the conversation — and ask yourself whether they truly are trustworthy. Do they have the credentials to back up their claims? Do they talk their way around specific questions rather than address them head-on? (Khalil calls this strategy “if-then plans”: If you catch yourself gravitating toward someone extroverted and loud, then seek another opinion.)
Two other sound strategies are: First, relentlessly seek outside input — oftentimes that can be as simple as asking a friend “Is my trust misplaced here?” Second, never stop learning, because the more knowledgeable you are about something, the more likely you are to know when someone’s faking it.
These biases are just part of life. But being aware of them can mean you’re able to find paths around them.
Trust me.


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