Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People

Mahzarin R Banaji, Author, Anthony G Greenwald, Author
Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. Delacorte, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-553-80464-5
Reviewed on: 11/12/2012
Release date: 02/12/2013
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-345-52843-8
Open Ebook - 177 pages - 978-0-440-42329-4
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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)
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