Confronting bias in judging: A framework for addressing psychological biases in decision making

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Description: Cognitive biases are systematic tendencies of thought which undermine accurate or fair reasoning. An allied concept is that of ‘implicit bias’, which are biases directed at members of particular social identities which may manifest without individual’s endorsement or awareness. This article reviews the literature on cognitive bias, broadly conceived, and makes proposals for how judges might usefully think about avoiding bias in their decision making. Contra some portrayals of cognitive bias as ‘unconscious’ or unknowable, we contend that things can be known about our psychological biases, and steps taken to address them. We argue for the benefits of a unified treatment of cognitive and implicit biases and propose a “3 by 3” framework which can be used by individuals and institutions to review their practice with respect to addressing bias. We emphasise that addressing bias requires an ongoing commitment to monitoring, evaluation and review rather than one­-off interventions.

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