Affinity Bias - Definition and Explanation

Affinity Bias – Definition and Explanation

Understanding Affinity Bias: Definition, Examples, and Strategies for Overcoming It

Affinity Bias is a crucial concept within Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. This bias occurs when individuals unconsciously favour others who share similar traits or backgrounds, whether it be race, gender, ethnicity, or any other characteristic. Understanding and addressing affinity bias is essential for fostering an inclusive environment where all individuals are treated fairly and equally.


Affinity Bias refers to the tendency of individuals to gravitate towards others who resemble them in some way, whether it’s through shared interests, experiences, or demographics. This bias can manifest in various aspects of life, including hiring decisions, team dynamics, and personal relationships.

Explaining Affinity Bias:

Affinity Bias operates on a subconscious level, often influencing decisions without individuals even realising it. For example, during the hiring process, a manager might unconsciously prefer candidates who attended the same alma mater or share similar hobbies, even if those factors are irrelevant to the job requirements. Similarly, in team settings, individuals might naturally gravitate towards coworkers who share their background, inadvertently excluding those who are different.


Imagine a hiring manager reviewing CVs for an open position. Two candidates possess identical qualifications and experience, but one candidate’s name indicates they belong to a particular ethnic group while the other candidate’s name does not provide any indication of ethnicity. Due to affinity bias, the hiring manager might subconsciously favour the candidate with the name that aligns with their own ethnicity, despite both candidates being equally qualified.

Strategies to Overcome Affinity Bias:

  1. Awareness and Education: The first step in addressing affinity bias is to raise awareness about its existence and its impact on decision-making processes. Providing training and workshops on unconscious bias can help individuals recognise and mitigate their own biases.
  2. Implement Structured Processes: Establishing structured processes for hiring, promotions, and decision-making can help reduce the influence of affinity bias. Utilising objective criteria and diverse interview panels can ensure that decisions are based on merit rather than personal preferences.
  3. Foster Diversity: Actively promoting diversity within organisations can help counteract affinity bias. Encouraging diverse perspectives and creating inclusive environments where all voices are heard can help break down barriers and promote equality.


Affinity Bias is a prevalent form of bias that can have significant implications for organisations and individuals. By understanding the nature of affinity bias and implementing strategies to address it, organisations can create more inclusive environments where diversity is celebrated, and all individuals have equal opportunities for success.

By incorporating these strategies, organisations can work towards overcoming affinity bias and fostering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Heidari, H., Barocas, S., Kleinberg, J., & Levy, K. (2023, October). Informational Diversity and Affinity Bias in Team Growth Dynamics. In Proceedings of the 3rd ACM Conference on Equity and Access in Algorithms, Mechanisms, and Optimization (pp. 1-10).

Buzanowska, M., & Rensel, M. (2023). Get your diverse team to outperform: Navigating through affinity bias. Management in Healthcare8(1), 16-23.

Slangen, A. H., Valboni, R., Eerola, A., & Lindner, T. (2023). Tax‐Motivated Relocations of Headquarters: The Role of Affinity Bias among Socially‐Responsible Blockholders and CEOs. Journal of Management Studies.

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