Exploring bias in decision-making – what does this mean for parents and professionals?

Mrs Ann Porter1

1Aussie Deaf Kids, Brunswick Heads, Australia


Ann has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, a Master of eHealthcare and is currently doing a PhD investigating parent decision-making and decision support tools through the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith University.

From the time any baby is born, parents start to make decisions that can have a lifelong impact on their child. Parental child-rearing knowledge, experiences, and personal and cultural values and beliefs will influence these decisions.

The need for parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing to receive unbiased information is well-documented. Unbiased information in this context implies that parents are told about all of the possibilities for communication and language acquisition for their child with hearing loss. Systematic errors in thinking, known as cognitive biases, are subconscious and affect parents and professionals alike. Cognitive biases are difficult to recognise in ourselves, so it is possible that ‘unbiased information’ can be provided in a way that biases parental decision-making.

This presentation is aimed at stimulating a conversation about the provision of ‘unbiased information’ and what the decision-making literature recommends is required for informed decision-making. The issue of bias in thinking and deciding will be explored and methods of information provision discussed. The goal is to facilitate attendees’ understanding of how to minimise cognitive bias and help parents make informed decisions that will meet the needs of the child and family.


Ann Porter is the founder of Aussie Deaf Kids – an organisation providing online information and support to parents of children with hearing loss. Ann collaborates extensively with parents, consumer organisations, service providers and government both in Australia and overseas to ensure families receive the services and support they need to competently and happily raise their deaf or hard of hearing child.