Visceral Bias

Another form of rating bias is called, quite symbolically, visceral bias, whereby a deep intuitive feeling influences ratings of actual performance. This describes the situation when an assessor uses their ‘gut feel’ rather than an objective assessment of performance to derive their rating. This bias was originally used with respect to describing the bias associated with the way in which first impressions of a patient can influence clinical diagnostic decision-making.16


A check and training captain is scheduled for a check ride with a first officer who is well known for making highly inappropriate comments towards cabin crew. The check and training captain just does not like this first officer at all, and as a result, he rates the performance of the first officer as lower than it actually was in practice.

As visceral bias describes how an assessor develops both positive and negative feelings with respect to individual trainees or teams, the influence of this bias is difficult to detect externally. It has been suggested that the only effective way to mitigate this bias is to consciously reflect on the potential that one’ s emotions might be influencing judgement and to actively make efforts to ensure that judgements are objective, rather than affective, in nature.17

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