Bias for Action – Meaning, Definition & Examples
“Tell us about the time when you took a risk at work or in personal life”. You’ve probably heard this…
February 4, 2021 | 4 mins read
“Tell us about the time when you took a risk at work or in personal life”.
You’ve probably heard this question many times at job interviews. Do you know the story behind it? Amazon, the leading e-commerce business, stresses the importance of taking risks. Highlighted under the leadership principles on Amazon’s corporate website, the ability to step up and face challenges is known as a bias for action.
Let’s explore the concept in greater detail and see how this psychological bias can be helpful in a professional setting.
Bias for action, also known as action bias is a type of cognitive bias that’s beneficial for personal and professional growth. It refers to the tendency of favoring action over inaction. There are times when we feel compelled to act but aren’t certain about the outcome, bias for action prompts us to respond to situations and take action without proper rationale.
When faced with a challenging situation, you aren’t afraid to make the call
You aren’t afraid to take risks and support those who fail to be risk-tolerant
You aren’t afraid to reach out and ask for help when you’re stuck; you aren’t scared of moving on either
Even when it’s not your job, you don’t hesitate in rolling up your sleeves and getting the work done
When you hold yourself accountable, it motivates others to follow suit and get things done; your actions foster a culture of taking the initiative
As a professional, you’re required to think critically and make spontaneous decisions that drive an organization’s success. Here’s why you should get things done.
We often complicate things by overanalyzing the situation, making room for analysis paralysis. We become paralyzed with the thoughts in our head and are unable to make any sound decisions. Bias for action helps us trust our gut and make decisions more quickly and efficiently. For example, you have to meet several deadlines at work and action bias will help you prioritize and get to work, instead of overthinking about the workload.
In an organization, various kinds of people with different working and learning styles work together. You should stay prepared and have the willingness to take risks when the need arises. If the right decisions lead to favorable outcomes, your professional reputation gets a boost. People will trust you with responsibilities. Your experience and knowledge base will automatically improve and you will stand out from the crowd.
Throughout our lives, we have been taught to think and behave like others. Sometimes, you have to be a rebel and challenge your comfort zone. Bias for action will not only help you take risks in life but also pursue opportunities that contribute to self-development. People with a bias for action aren’t afraid to challenge popular ideas, switch jobs and make other bold career moves. Entrepreneurs are great examples of people who know when to put their foot down.
People often look at bias for action as a character trait that’s innate. While it does come naturally to many, there are ways to develop an action bias. Here are some examples of bias for action that will highlight several life-changing hacks.
Start small by doing something that gets you out of your comfort zone. To develop risk tolerance, you need to start challenging yourself. Having a growth mindset and believing in your ability to improve helps to a great extent. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, start speaking at small gatherings, surrounded by friends or family.
One of the primary reasons for not taking action is getting distracted by too many things. You’re bound to feel overwhelmed. Learn how to focus on important things by reducing the number of distractions in your life. For example, you find it difficult to maintain a work-life balance. On top of that, you can’t stop spending time on your phone. If you want to address your priorities, you have to minimize screen time.
We often feel overwhelmed while making decisions because we overestimate our capabilities. Even popular literature emphasizes the need for having a grand plan. Forget about that! Start focusing on the things you can. You don’t have to build Rome in a day. In fact, create smaller goals that will help you achieve the larger goal. Be realistic and pace yourself by identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
Decision-making isn’t always easy. But action bias coupled with critical thinking and analyzing abilities can help you immensely. Harappa Education’s Thinking Critically course is equipped with all the right tools and frameworks to guide you in analyzing and interpreting information. The Mental Models tool will help you simplify complex information and think through situations in a more effective manner. Enhance your thinking powers and never hesitate to step up to a challenge again!
Explore topics such as What is Confirmation Bias, Cognitive Bias, Self-Serving Bias, Hindsight Bias & Unconscious Bias from Harappa Diaries and learn how you can benefit from various biases in your professional setting.