“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
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
“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
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.