Habit # 5


"They don’t look at me, they are always talking to each other, they don’t even know who I am…"


During activity N ° 4, we invited you to organize contacts with people potentially targets of your biases. We told you that this week, we would give you tips for these exchanges. Here they are.

We invite you to individuate. Individuation is a particularly effective technique for reducing bias and its impact.


Our System 1 simplifies and generalizes

When we have negative biases, we automatically associate the people targeted by our biases with negative attributes. These attributes may not correspond to the specific person in front of us. This generalization will structure our judgment and our behavior, outside of our control.

Our biases will lead us to avoid visual contact with the target people of our biases

Researchers have measured with eye tracking devices that we look directly in the eyes of people we like 40 to 60% of the time. When we have bias, this proportion drops, down to 10 to 20%. And this difference exists even in cultures where looking in the eye is generally seen as inappropriate. However, we tend to have an automatic preference for people who look us in the eye. We will even tend to automatically prefer an angry face to a face that avoids direct eye contact.

In other words, our biases will cause us to look less directly at the people in front of us. These people will then be uncomfortable, so we will feel it and think that they don’t like us. And our relationships will then be less open and less constructive.

Our biases will activate the areas of the brain in charge of stress and fear and will reduce our ability to identify and memorize a face.

In the awareness session you attended, we showed you that when we have unconscious biases about people whose skin color is different from ours, the first brain center that gets activated is the amygdala. It is followed by the fusiform gyrus which tends to “bug”. Therefore, we are less able to distinguish and remember the face of a person from another group than our own. A study published on November 20, 2020 shows that individuating is effective in order to counteract this mental mechanism.

This week, we therefore encourage you to “individuate”: it is about perceiving and treating each person as a specific individual – and therefore reducing generalization.


Whether your interaction takes place via Webcast or face-to-face:


Individuation requires mental effort. It is about focusing System 1.


Look closely at the person’s face by focusing on their eyes

If you are participating in a Webcast, use your webcam. If possible, place it at eye level and look into the webcam. The person you are talking to will have the feeling that you are looking them in the eye.

Practice cognitive reassessment
Make a real effort of empathy. For example, feel free to repeat in your head “this person is nice”.

Have an open and authentic conversation. Find out who this person really is. Share information about yourself

First of all, find out who this person really is. For example, ask them what their professional background is, what are their main motivators, what accomplishments they are proud of, what they would like to do later. Ask him/ her also what are the points likely to demotivate him/ her. Do not hesitate to understand his/ her current context with the pandemic. Give him/ her professional advice.

Then, share information about yourself. If possible, prioritize the commonalities you have discovered and highlight them.

Anchor this exchange

After this discussion, write down what happened. Describe how this person interacted with you, what you learned and how you felt. Notice how this changed your perception of that person, if any. And schedule more such contacts in the coming weeks.


Look carefully at the images that will be displayed below. Concentrate well and watch each individual. Once you are done, keep in mind how you felt.

Look again carefully at the images that will be displayed below. Concentrate well and watch each individual. Once you are done, keep in mind how you felt.


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