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Blindspot : Hidden Biases of Good People
by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald

Overview - "I know my own mind.
I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way."
These self-perceptions are challenged by leading psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald as they explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality.
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More About Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji; Anthony G. Greenwald
 
 
 
Overview
"I know my own mind.
I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way."
These self-perceptions are challenged by leading psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald as they explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality.
"Blindspot" is the authors' metaphor for the portion of the mind that houses hidden biases. Writing with simplicity and verve, Banaji and Greenwald question the extent to which our perceptions of social groups--without our awareness or conscious control--shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people's character, abilities, and potential.
In "Blindspot, " the authors reveal hidden biases based on their experience with the Implicit Association Test, a method that has revolutionized the way scientists learn about the human mind and that gives us a glimpse into what lies within the metaphoric blindspot.
The title's "good people" are those of us who strive to align our behavior with our intentions. The aim of "Blindspot" is to explain the science in plain enough language to help well-intentioned people achieve that alignment. By gaining awareness, we can adapt beliefs and behavior and "outsmart the machine" in our heads so we can be fairer to those around us. Venturing into this book is an invitation to understand our own minds.
Brilliant, authoritative, and utterly accessible, "Blindspot" is a book that will challenge and change readers for years to come.
Praise for "Blindspot"
"Conversational . . . easy to read, and best of all, it has the potential, at least, to change the way you think about yourself."--Leonard Mlodinow, "The New York Review of Books"
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"Accessible and authoritative . . . While we may not have much power to eradicate our own prejudices, we can counteract them. The first step is to turn a hidden bias into a visible one. . . . What if we're not the magnanimous people we think we are?"--"The Washington Post"
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"Banaji and Greenwald deserve a major award for writing such a lively and engaging book that conveys an important message: Mental processes that we are not aware of can affect what we think and what we do. "Blindspot" is one of the most illuminating books ever written on this topic."--Elizabeth F. Loftus, Ph.D., distinguished professor, University of California, Irvine; past president, Association for Psychological Science; author of "Eyewitness Testimony"
"A wonderfully cogent, socially relevant, and engaging book that helps us think smarter and more humanely. This is psychological science at its best, by two of its shining stars."--David G. Myers, professor, Hope College, and author of "Intuition: Its Powers and Perils"
" The authors'] work has revolutionized social psychology, proving that--unconsciously--people are affected by dangerous stereotypes."--"Psychology Today
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"An accessible and persuasive account of the causes of stereotyping and discrimination . . . Banaji and Greenwald will keep even nonpsychology students engaged with plenty of self-examinations and compelling elucidations of case studies and experiments."--"Publishers Weekly"
"A stimulating treatment that should help readers deal with irrational biases that they would otherwise consciously reject."--"Kirkus Reviews"

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780553804645
  • ISBN-10: 0553804642
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Publish Date: February 2013
  • Page Count: 254


Related Categories

Books > Psychology > Social Psychology
Books > Psychology > Movements - Behaviorism
Books > Science > Philosophy & Social Aspects

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-11-12
  • Reviewer: Staff

Citing the influence of “mindbugs”—ingrained judgments and biases that unconsciously influence behavior—social psychologists Banaji and Greenwald, professors at Harvard and the University of Washington, respectively, provide an accessible and persuasive account of the causes of stereotyping and discrimination. Using numerous tests and data sets, the authors demonstrate that while most Americans are not overtly racist, a majority show implicit preferences for whites versus African-Americans, which can lead to discriminatory treatment of the latter and economic and social disparities. Similar associations can be seen with regard to gender biases and ageism, to the extent that even members of these groups have internalized stereotypes. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these results is the degree to which these mindbugs then become self-fulfilling prophecies, to the point where “people... are willing to sacrifice their self-interest for the sake of maintaining the existing social order.” What arises as critical is that these behaviors often occur in ways that are subtle and unintentional, having more to do with a favoritism of one’s own in-group, rather than actual animosity toward others. Banaji and Greenwald will keep even nonpsychology students engaged with plenty of self-examinations and compelling elucidations of case studies and experiments. Agent: Katinka Matson and John Brockman, Brockman Inc. (Feb. 5)

 
BookPage Reviews

Objects in mirror are more biased than they appear

Most of us would like to believe that we’re free-thinking, fair-minded folks who treat everyone equally. In this age of political correctness and diversity, that’s built into the code of everyday life. There’s proof. Americans elected an African-American president—twice.

Yet, according to Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, authors of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, such gestures don’t atone for the various “mindbugs” we possess: “ingrained habits” that dictate how we perceive and react to, well, everything around us.

That I can summarize the book so easily is a credit to the authors, longtime psychology professors at Harvard University (Banaji) and the University of Washington (Greenwald), who complement their data with straightforward explanations and examples, whether it’s real-life stories or famous “Seinfeld” episodes. The result is a riveting book steeped in research that feels personal, sometimes uncomfortably so.

Blindspot’s first moment of clarity comes when you take the authors’ much-discussed Implicit Association Tests (IATs), especially the one on race. You may find that you’re not as enlightened as you believe. (A 2009 meta-analysis of 184 studies showed that “the race IAT predicted racially discriminatory behavior.”) By allowing us to participate in the science—as I did—and not just digest data, Banaji and Greenwald capture our attention.

And what we learn is fascinating. Examples: Stereotypes may help us navigate the world, but they can force the affected to live up (or down) to that description—which can be good and bad. Discrimination doesn’t have to involve overt acts of hatred, but can be as simple as “maintaining the status quo.” (The authors describe a doctor at a university hospital whose effort increased when he learned that his youthful-looking patient was a professor.) Automatic preferences steer us away from uncomfortable situations, which is why undertakers may have a hard time finding dates.

In this accessible and sobering book, Banaji and Greenwald dig into our soul’s deepest crevices. And that’s great. Because it turns out that before we can all get along with each other, we need to work on ourselves.

 
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