Prague and unconscious bias

Increasingly I am called upon to use the knowledge I have learned in psychology to discuss why diversity is a political and pro-social necessity.

Its not just my art school lectures that this new knowledge underpins. As you know from my All Walks and body positivity conversations, educating ourselves about the impact of imagery on our psyche is vital for all of us. And it seems others agree so now I have the chance to present to leaders in other fields like advertisers and retailers as well as managers and CEOs in unrelated areas!

A visit to Prague recently had me conducting a three hour workshop for the European territory bosses of a Japanese beer. In preparation I evaluated the 'need to know,'  cognitive process to deliver maximum impact.

For your information...I've distilled them here for you as three main 'take home,' insights.  (There were scores of slides in my presentation obvs! But you don't have the time, so here it is in 10 seconds!)

First thing you need to know: As much as we think we are in control of what we are thinking we aren't!

And because we see between 2000 to 5000 images each week, we can't possibly evaluate every image with the hyper-vigilance needed.

So we mostly engage in 'fast and fluid thinking.' This is know as cognitive ease.

And of course we choose to process things with minimal attention because we simply don't have the time or battery power to stop what we are doing and engage in the other process know as cognitive loading.

Cognitive loading is effortful. But when we actually stop and give our full attention to images like these, we can understand their negative impact. Above we see women as service providers for a masculine central character and below we see women as unknowing prey.

And there you have it. When institutions promote a world in which men are heroicised by their consumer choices they may do so by using women as props and in service to their view of the world. Sexism, objectification, women as decorative set-dressing in a man made world, even women as prey can be the result. When there is no challenge to the way things are set up and all minds are engaged in cognitive ease.

Fashion does it too...and of course I like to bring that to the attention of my audiences in other presentations when I am asked!

Share Share