Empathy & Bias

In this reflection, I will reflect on empathy & bias using different resources like articles, videos and games. Mentioning people’s thoughts & perspectives as well as my personal opinions. Beginning with having empathy and being moved deeply inside with the incidents that occur to some people all the way to being biased towards others.

Starting with the game Syrian Journey, It made me feel empathetic rather than biased towards a certain group. I chose to go to Turkey as it is the safer road. Then, after I chose to go to Greece and when arrived there, I had to choose whether to run into the woods with my family, or risk the mother & her daughter from drowning. Of course I chose to rescue them as I couldn’t bear the picture in my mind of them drowning in the sea, but it cost me to go back to Turkey and be away from my family that is in Greece now. I played again to see what the other option would do. So, in the second time, I chose to leave them drowning and run with my family into the woods. Again, it cost me leave them in Greece & run to Europe so that I can get asylum. In this case if & only if I was accepted in Europe as a refugee, I would be able to get my family to live with me. This was so heartbreaking for me because it made feel the real struggle of the Syrian refugees that no matter what they do, there would still be a huge possibility that they would be separated from their family if they seek survival in good conditions. Which means that family at last would remain as a word to them but no actual existence to it, as each member of this family is separated & living somewhere in a different country than the others.

Of course here I remembered the article written by Lina Mounzer “War in Translation” where she discussed their situation, and how it felt living in Syria during the war & the family members seeing each other getting killed, harassed, or running away from the country. Her strong word choices made me feel their struggle, or at least imagine it with the pain they are feeling in their chest with every situation they pass by. I really liked the part where she mentioned that in translation, the choice of words is really important or else the reader won’t be able to feel the struggle. However, reading the article then playing the Syrian journey game was a perfect combination to emotionally understand the Syrians situation and empathize towards it.

Talking about the game Spent,’ well it was the first ‘emotional’ game that I’ve tried. It was based on making all tough decisions, and on deciding what are you willing to sacrifice to keep what you care about or what you have ‘empathy’ towards. For me, It was either maintaining my money or caring for my family. It was so hard to balance. The first sacrifice I made in the game was myself; I chose not to have an insurance, to sell my car, and to ignore the need of going to the doctor in order to keep my money for my kid and my family needs. However, it kept going harder like having only $400 left but my mother needs medication that costs $350. Of course I chose to bring the medication but I quickly ran out of money. But still, I loved the game; it needed emotional thinking and taking emotional decisions rather than intellectual ones.

Moving to being biased, I have tried the IAT (Implicit Association Test) and this was my result “Your data suggest a strong automatic preference for Arab Muslims over Other People. Result is described as an “Automatic preference for Arab Muslims” if you were faster responding when Arab Muslims and Good are assigned to the same response key than when  Other People and Good were classified with the same key.” I enjoyed playing the game itself very much as I was impressed how it was able to determine my answer from how fast I press the keys & what was easier to process in my mind (like Good & Muslims were easier to relate than it was Others & Good). However, I wasn’t surprised with the final answer because I know for sure that if I am at a place where there are Arab Muslims & foreigners, I would definitely choose the Arab Muslims. And I wouldn’t call this a bias but rather being comfortable to whom look like me, and we would understand each other easily. Also, I definitely won’t treat the others badly or in a disrespectful way that is why I don’t call it a bias but rather I preferred whom I’ll easily communicate with.

                One last thing is Diffusing bias video by Binna Kandola, he talked about Bias in a psychological way that explains it all. He started by stating sentences that represent my personal opinions like “We’re all biased without exception”, a sentence that I truly believe in, and also when he mentioned that we are not divided into people who have bias and others who don’t, but rather people who are aware of their biases and others are not. Moreover, When he mentioned “One of the ironies is that those people who believe they have no bias probably are the most biased because there’s no reflection going on,this sentence made me stop and think, whenever we open a class discussion and bring up bias, someone must mention being biased towards black people. I believe that I am not biased towards them at all but in the matter of fact, I haven’t been in a situation where I have to deal with an African American for example to see how I would react, and how the thought in my mind would like. Will I act normally as if I am dealing with any other person in my daily life? Would it feel weird and I might avoid dealing with him/her? I had all this questions on my mind and I don’t think that I’ll find an answer to if I’m really biased or not until I am in a real life situation that shows me how I would think, feel and react.

            All in all, as hectic and multi-resourced this reflection was to me, as much I have enjoyed it because I got to try new types of games that actually had a great aim, and also I’ve got the chance to watch videos and hear different people’s opinions and perspectives about bias and empathy towards completely various and different groups of people.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s