Unconscious bias* refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.
We all have unconscious biases and we are all affected by bias. We can take action to manage the impact on our behaviour and decision making. It’s up to individuals to decide what action to take.
Cognitive bias is the phenomenon where people used flawed judgement to assess data. Those flaws are caused by the brain’s tendency to be biased according to various factors. Cognitive biases are a very heavily theorised & researched concept within psychology, whereas “unconscious bias” is just a description rather than a clearly defined technical term.
The two terms are related, because cognitive biases may well inform some of our unconscious biases, but they are not generally used in quite the same context.