Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Tour Guide Chad

Written by: on March 10, 2023

What better way to spend Spring Break than on a college tour. My oldest daughter wanted to visit the University of Oklahoma (OU) and I was all for it, after all these are my people. This is where I grew up and where my family lives. I affectionately refer to this as “the motherland.” The visit got even better when the college student leading our tour introduced himself as, “Chad.” My daughter looked at me and said, “Don’t be weird.” That was a tall order now, but I reminded myself that I was there for her, even as I laughed at every corny joke. He represents us “Chads” very well, I thought.  After the tour, I was ready to register for classes. I did my best to contain my excitement as my daughter processed her thoughts about the college visit. “I think I want to visit another school, just to make sure,” she said. “That’s wise,” I told her, but how could it get any better? It checked all my unconscious biases.

While I thought the affinity I felt was due to being a fan of the school, I now see the experience tied to my unconscious connections to the school, particularly the bias I carry. That is the observation offered in Sway: Unraveling Unconscious Bias. The author, Pragya Agarwal, argues that, “Each of us form and carry unconscious biases of some sort. It’s not only the behavior of bigoted, racist or sexist people but of everyone, including you and me”[1]. She goes on to argue in a comprehensive, compelling and far-reaching way that these biases are used to judge, discriminate, and stereotype and, further, are supported, reinforced and imbedded in our social systems [2]. In Sway, Agarwal traces the biological and social reasons why we are biases, as well as the ways we can unlearn our biases by slowing down and “de-automize” our responses to accurately unlearn and encounter the people around us [3]. 

Implicit Egotism Theory

One of the unconscious or implicit biases that Agarwal unpacks is the “implicit egotism theory.” This theory states that we are unconsciously biased toward things that we associate about ourselves [4]. This explains why it was not difficult to convince me to like the University of Oklahoma, particularity with funny, Tour Guide Chad leading showed us around campus. He was literally my kind of person. Tour Guide Chad also expressed this when he recounted how he has four job offers already because, “people like to hire students from Oklahoma.” What he is expressing is that the employers that made him offers also see him as their kind of person because of the association with OU. 

Baked In But Not Permeant 

Agarwal points out that these types of biases may arise from an evolutionary need to recognize friend or enemy [5]. These cognitive “shortcuts” help us make decisions quickly and know if we are safe [6]. While these behaviors can be helpful, they can also lead to harmful stereotypes that can be unlearned [7]. The challenge is to unlearn, of course, as Agarwal observes, “when our own beliefs contradict those around us, this becomes a challenge because humans generally detest the notion of ‘standing alone’, and people can spend too much time copying each other and lose the ability to make their own decisions” [8]. In other words, it would have been difficult to be critical of Tour Guide Chad while on the tour with our new friends who seemed to be excited about the school. It is only when we are removed from the group that we feel free to express a divergent opinion.


That is why Agarwal wrote this book – to name the ways we congregate in life without critical thought to the reasons we think and believe the way we do. Considering the biases I have for a university are an entertaining way to get at a deeper truth, and it is the one that Agarwal is inviting all of us to see, that our biases do not necessarily represent the people and situations in front of us. Our biases can be harmful to us and to others if they are left unexamined. While I enjoyed touring OU, I hope my daughter is able to think deeply and unbiased about this important decision in her life. Although, Tour Guide Chad did a great job convincing her that OU would be a fun place.

  1. Pragya Agarwal, Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias (London: Bloomsbury Sigma, 2020), 22. 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Ibid., 411. 
  4. Ibid., 59. 
  5. Ibid., 64. 
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid., 65. 
  8. Ibid., 57. 

About the Author


Chad McSwain

Chad is a systematic creative serving in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years, Chad is a professional question-asker and white-board enthusiast, who enjoys helping people discover their own passions and purpose. A life-long learner, he has a B.A, Philosophy - Univ. Central Oklahoma, M.A Theology - Fuller Seminary, M.Div. Perkins School of Theology at SMU and is pursuing a Doctor of Leadership - George Fox University. He is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, currently serving as Lead Pastor of Whitesboro UMC. Chad and his wife, Brandi live in Prosper, Texas along with their three children, two pugs and a chameleon.

9 responses to “Tour Guide Chad”

  1. Michael O'Neill says:

    “Don’t be weird, Dad.” I love it! My daughter has requested this of me in many situations, but I actually think she likes that I’m a “wild card.” She is super silly too but changes her demeanor in certain peer situations. I like how you brought Sway into your experience. Perhaps this was the perfect timing for this reading and your college hunt.

    I am not a gambler but I have heard… “don’t bet on your own team.” It’s too emotional and your personal desire for them to win has nothing to do with the odds or outcome – but it could influence your decision to favor them in a bet. I think it’s wise of you and your daughter to recognize this even after having such a great OU experience. Great post.

  2. mm David Beavis says:

    Hey Chad,

    So, upon further reflection and recognition of your unconscious bias, are there downsides to OU that you noticed? Downsides that perhaps you were not privy to before noticing your biases? Great job doing the work of unearthing your unconscious biases!

  3. Kristy Newport says:

    I got the feeling that you enjoyed writing this blog! Thanks for sharing about the fun campus tour.
    I like this quote:
    “the ways we can unlearn our biases by slowing down and “de-automize” our responses to accurately unlearn and encounter the people around us [3].”
    I like this idea of de-automizing.

    Just wait until your daughter starts dating!! I wonder if you will have any biases with whom she takes a liking too? Check this out…..My husbands name is Brian and my daughter is dating a guy named Brian. You would think there would be a positive bias there due to the same name….well…no…there is no positive bias. 🙂 Please read my Northouse blog. I would love to FIND some positive biases with the guys my girls are dating.
    Please let us know what college your daughter chooses. My son is in a season of waiting to hear back from colleges. May 1 is decision day. We will find out where he will be going. I’m forgetting if your daughter is a senior or a junior? Father, please lead and guide our children in their next steps!!

    I am curious if you have discovered some other biases you have that may be positive (according to you) but then you find that they need to be challenged/assessed further? I am curious if you have a bias for how far away (distance from home) you’d like to see your daughter go for college? Do you have a bias in this area?

  4. Chad – Good post on Sway and the “Chads” were well represented!
    “She goes on to argue in a comprehensive, compelling, and far-reaching way that these biases are used to judge, discriminate, and stereotype.”
    Have you found ways to unlearn and “de-automize”? Curious.

  5. mm Becca Hald says:

    Hi Chad, thanks for a fun and engaging post. It is funny how we connect with someone of the same name, like sharing in a name automatically raises our view of that person. I jokingly say my husband “collects Beckys” in his life because he has had numerous crushes on girls named Becky before he met me. I wonder if that subconsciously played into his initial attraction to me. 🤔

  6. Tonette Kellett says:


    What a fun post about your daughter, the Chads, and OU! Did your daughter decide what other college she wants to go see for comparison before making a decision?

  7. Chad – I relate to your post so much! We are also in the college visit stage of life and it’s been challenging and eye opening to see how I can love a school and think it’s perfect for my daughter and she can walk away crossing it off her list:) Thanks for weaving your experience into the summary of Sway. It was enjoyable and insightful to read!

  8. Kristy Newport says:

    I might just use this in my syntopical essay:

    Agarwal observes, “when our own beliefs contradict those around us, this becomes a challenge because humans generally detest the notion of ‘standing alone’, and people can spend too much time copying each other and lose the ability to make their own decisions”

  9. Chad,

    First I need to own my own bias that OU is not the right college choice! Texas Tech would be a much better option. Your fun way of explaining the facts of bias is fantastic, just change your college choice and it would be better. (LOL)

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