Skip to Main Content

Fake News & Fake Facts: Media Literacy Awareness

Learn how language can be used to in a way that it affects the way people perceive reality. Unlike real news, whose purpose is to simply inform, the main purpose of disinformation is to confuse and manipulate people.

How Bias Screws Up Decision-Making Abilities

What is Bias?

Bias icon





According to the Oxford English Dictionary, bias is: an inclination, leaning, tendency, bent; a preponderating disposition or propensity; predisposition towards; predilection; prejudice.

Bias is a point of view that may influence how information is conveyed and processed.

Cartoon dog sitting among flames, claiming "this is fine."

Image source: K.C Green. "On Fire." Gunshow. Webcomic. 2013.

  • Normalcy Bias

    • the tendency to underestimate the likelihood or impact of a situation, person, disaster or other crisis

    • lack of "situational awareness" can cause people to underestimate the risks which leads to complacency and not being prepared for the consequences

  • Optimism Bias

    • the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes and underestimate the likelihood of negative outcomes

    • leads people to take risks or make decisions based on overly optimistic "assumptions" (something is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof), which may not be grounded in reality

  • Complacency Bias
    •  the tendency to become overly satisfied with the current situation and to underestimate the possible risks or negative consequences


  • Confirmation Bias 

    • describes the underlying tendency to notice, focus on, and give greater credence to evidence that fits with our existing beliefs; seeking out information to confirm what we already believe

  • Implicit Bias 
    • unintentional
      • upbringing or personal background
      • media exposure creeps in
      • affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors.
        • develop self-awareness skills to be aware of your own biases
          • self-awareness means to have conscious knowledge of our own character, feelings, motives, and desires. 
    • choose resources with the potential of bias in mind
    • evaluate if a bias is strongly influencing the trustworthiness of the source
    • many people see opinion they agree with as fact or as truth and opinion they disagree with as fake or false


  • Explicit Bias
    • attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level
    • take root because of a perceived threat to well-being
    • expression
      • discrimination
      • hate speech
      • violence
  • Spin 
    • information itself may be incorrect, but it is "spun" or presented in such a way that it is interpreted to mean something else, or be aligned to a targeted point of view or values 

What can you do to overcome your own biases?

  • educate yourself
    • be curious and open to new information
    • be proactive, informed, and prepared
  •  seek out information from multiple and divergent perspectives
    • go beyond information that confirms what you already "know"
  • update  thinking when presented with new information
  • practice resilience
    • the ability to adapt to and recover from difficult situations
      • being prepared to face unexpected challenges and bounce back

The chart or the article linked below depicts biases we are all vulnerable to.

Bias chart

Western Technical College

Western Technical College Learning Commons
Student Success Center, Room 201
400 7th Street North
La Crosse, WI 54601
State Relay: 711
EEO Statement

Learn more about Western and the Learning Commons.
The Learning Commons provides library and academic support services on campus and online. The Learning Commons will set you up for success!

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For details and exceptions, see the Library Copyright Statement.
©2023, Western Technical College

If you are experiencing disability related accessibility issues with any information on this website, please email or call 608-785-9524.