We all like to think we are impartial when weighing up factors to make decisions. Unfortunately, the evidence is that in most situations, people have already made up their minds and then work backwards to justify their decisions. This is called motivated reasoning, and it can influence many decisions. What can we do to avoid this kind of thinking?
Bias is a particularly important topic for police officers, as biases, both positive and negative, can affect how well police interact with the community and how effective they are. We’ve discussed ingroup bias. This interesting short video discusses the opposite bias - outgroup bias.
Bias is a particularly important topic for police officers, as biases, both positive and negative, can affect how police interact with the community and how effective they are. Ingroup bias, as the name suggests leads to people favouring people who belong in similar groups as them. These groups may be based on gender, race, ethnicity, or favourite sports team. If someone is in our “ingroup” we are more likely to trust them. How can we challenge this bias?
Ethical fading occurs when the ethical aspects of a decision disappear from view. This happens when people focus heavily on some other aspect of a decision, such as solving a case or managing a high workload. People tend to see what they are looking for, and if they are not looking for an ethical issue, they may miss it altogether. We can try to counteract it by learning to recognise when we put ethical concerns behind other factors in making decisions.
Can people be persuaded to act in ways that serve the longer-term collective interest? What strategies can we use to encourage people to make strong long-term decisions in situations defined by a conflict between short-term self-interests and longer-term collective interests?
The culture of law enforcement may not always encourage humility – confidence and assertiveness are required - but should we all accept that our views may sometimes be wrong?

People with high intellectual humility are more likely to negotiate and be open to other views, pay more attention to the quality of evidence and are more likely to keep learning. Unsurprisingly, they are also liked more.
Robert Cialdini is a speaker who focuses on influence and persuasion. His content is ethically appropriate. The approaches he advocates are used in entirely non manipulative ways that never deceive or coerce others into assent. Persuasion is a key capability of police. Persuasion seeks to influence others by changing their attitude or behaviour. In this short video, Robert Cialdini explains the science of influence and persuasion based on research evidence.

How we can use these insights ethically?
It is encouraging to see an increased focus on mental health in the workplace. It is also important to remember that leaders' concern for people needs to be authentic and based on respect for the dignity of each person:

"If your concern is purely utilitarian—and you feign concern to help ensure performance levels don’t slip, people will see right through it. Your regard for the mental health of your team must be born from a genuine concern for them as human beings, and the delight they experience in contributing to your organization. Treat performance results as an outcome of that kind of leadership. Treating people as only a means to an end is a sure fire way to damage their mental health and your team’s performance."
Behavioural ethics is a field of study that seeks to understand how people behave when confronted with ethical dilemmas.

Drawing on behavioural economics, psychology, and other behavioural sciences, this Research Report illustrates how companies can use insights from the theory in order to strengthen their ethics programme and help their employees to do the right thing.

It focuses on how people make decisions and what can influence them.

It includes:
-The challenges for an ethics programme
-Why behavioural ethics is relevant to an ethics programme
-Supporting individual decision-making, and
-Suggestions of how behavioural ethics can be used in your ethics programme
To build on the gains made in recent years, ethics training will have to accomplish several goals. First, ethics training needs to focus on unleashing participants’ intrinsic motivation to be ethical, rather than rely on solely on a compliance mentality that justifies ethical behavior through rewards and punishment. When people are intrinsically motivated they persevere through difficult times and are less likely to take short cuts. By making ethics something that leaders want to do and need to do in order to succeed, we can increase commitment to ethics in organizations and reduce the likelihood of ethical lapses which can be more likely to occur if our field of vision is narrowed by external incentives.