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Authority Bias

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Authority Bias
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Authority Bias

 

Authority bias is when the opinions or ideas offered by a person in a position of power (authority) are given more weight, even if their perception isn’t necessarily correct or their idea isn’t the best one on the table. 

 

Because most workplaces have hierarchies, it is easy for authority bias to occur. In existing hierarchies, the tendency is to follow the person in authority even when their leadership isn’t steering things in the best direction. When employees put too much power and trust in leadership, employee engagement is limited, and the company may struggle to innovate. 

 

Another instance of authority bias can be when more credence is given to a thought, opinion, or idea delivered by an individual who is seen as an expert or authority in their field. 

 

Example: 

 

If a person of authority is a part of the hiring process, it can hinder the hiring team’s ability to choose the best candidate. For example, suppose that a team comprised of a human resources representative and department heads is interviewing several candidates. Halfway through a day full of interviews, the CEO comes into the interview room to sit in on one of the interviews. 

 

The CEO’s opinion of the candidate will have a significant impact on the perception of the hiring team members. This can result in other more qualified candidates being considered. In the other extreme, the CEO may have a negative impression of an excellent candidate because of their own biases, resulting in the hiring team disregarding the best candidate for the job.

 

Related Terms

Conformity Bias

refers to an individual’s desire to align with the group consensus. If certain members of the team have an opinion about a candidate, other team members may fall in line so that they can conform to the consensus. This bias is especially present when a person of authority is involved in the interview process.

Confirmation Bias

refers to a person’s tendency to consciously or subconsciously seek information that confirms their opinions or views while disregarding input that challenges their perception.

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