Illustrating Biased Judgements and Behavioural Implications

This is a ‘Feel the Need’ Inclusion Nudge
You can learn more on page 50 in the Inclusion Nudges Guidebook 2nd edition


The Challenge

Biased, usually unconscious, judgments of others (both of individuals and across social groups such as “women” or “Asians”, etc.) are made within nanoseconds, often triggered by someone’s gender, appearance, name, skin colour, accent, etc. This has an impact on our interactions in terms of feelings and level of engagement with others.  In the workplace, this is especially problematic when we make hiring decisions and when we assess the talent and potential of others.  Because most people have intentions to treat others fairly and also have a firm belief in the meritocracy of their organisation, it can be very hard to see and accept that one is making biased judgments of others.


How it works: The Inclusion Nudge


Show pictures of real people just a few seconds per picture.
Instruct the participants in this intervention to rate each person on a scale from 1-5 on two social traits that we unconsciously rate all people in a split second: Warmth and Competence.
After the rating, show the photos of the people again and tell the participants who they are and what they do

Choose pictures of people you know will trigger specific association and stereotypes, such as care, leader, criminal, cold, power, but who will counter the stereotypes when you tell the participants who they are: The woman in a sari is the CEO, the guy in the suit is the butcher, the beautiful lady is the doctor, the ‘terrorist’ is a caring social worker, etc. Make it surprising, funny, and shocking.

This Inclusion Nudge illustrates the result and consequences of snap judgment and decisions instead of rationally trying to convince people/leaders that they are biased.

Familiarize yourself with the research on social perception on warmth and competency by Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick (2007).


Why it works: Behavioural Insights

The challenge is that we are blind to how we make such snap and biased judgements based on a picture.

When we can see the gap between our self-perception/intentions and our actions/behaviour the mind is in some cases able to close the gap – literally by seeing it.

In other cases this intervention works as a motivational push. This Inclusion Nudge is an eye-opener to most people and it motivates managers and employees to want to challenge such judgments of people, and it’s easy and important to present them to ways to mitigate bias in the processes.

It can provide a shared language and a platform for open discussions on unconscious bias.

The participants ‘own’ the message, because the messenger is their own brain and not you as the change agent/facilitator. There is not blaming and shaming.


Read more in the Inclusion Nudges Guidebook



Weekly Inclusion Nudges by Tinna C. Nielsen and Lisa Kepinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at