Everyone, everywhere, is tasked with making decisions. We make hundreds of decisions a day, maybe thousands, or more. What to wear, what to eat, what to say when talking to someone, the decision to stop and talk at all! Honestly, if we stopped and thought about each and every decision we make and thought about why we made the choice we made we'd all go crazy.
But there are also those decisions that we need to slow down and think about. A recent article had me thinking about how we make decisions, and how our biases play a role in making them.
"The youngest children in the classroom who are most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. The systematic review was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Seventeen studies covering more than 14 million children from various countries were examined. Lead author Martin Whitley commented in the Daily Mail that 'It appears that across the globe some teachers are mistaking the immaturity of the youngest children in their class for ADHD.'"
The existence of ADHD, and it's potential overdiagnosis is an interesting topic, and one the article continues, to talk about, but instead I want to focus on how the people in these students lives decided that they must have ADHD.
One thing that strikes me is that ADHD can be medicated, while immaturity cannot be. When you are working with a younger child the fact of the matter is that you just need to have lower expectations than if you were working with an older child. In this way, the responsibility falls on the adult to understand where the child is coming from. On the other hand, if the child has ADHD, it is no longer the adult's problem, it's a medical problem.
I don't want to say that ADHD does, or doesn't exist. And it is also important to mention that factors like less recess and less gym, as well as overworked and underpaid teachers, are important factors in this discussion. But on a larger scale, this exemplifies the problem in how a lot of people make decisions, and how bias plays a role in poor decision making. In this example diagnosing an immature student was easier than waiting for them to mature. That is how bias seeps into decision making, by being more convenient, and instead of looking at the facts, and deciding what is most plausible, we look at what would be most convenient for us to believe.