Hidden Biases of Good People

by Anthony G. Greenwald , Mahzarin Banaji

Number of pages: 272

Publisher: Delacorte Press

BBB Library: Psychology and Strengths

ISBN: 978-0553804645

About the Authors

Anthony G. Greenwald : Greenwald provoked modern attention to the psychological self with his 1980


Mahzarin Banaji : She taught at Yale University from 1986-2002 where she was Reuben


Editorial Review

We tend to think that when we make our own decisions, we do them fairly. We think that we understand the way our minds work and that we are the ones in control. But psychologists beg to differ. In this summary of Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald book, Blindspot, they are explaining that every decision we make is controlled by hidden biases. These come from our culture, gender, race, religion, and even past experiences that we went through throughout our lives. This blindspot is a place that's hidden inside of our minds and it makes the decisions for us without us being aware. It forms our opinions of others and our reactions to many of the situations that we go through. This book is written to help us be more aware of this fact and how it happens so when the next time comes for us to make a decision; we will have the ability to outsmart ourselves and make decisions that are truly fair.   

Book Reviews

“In their new book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People authors Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwal, argue that we are all biased. They don’t come right out and say we are prejudiced; yet they allude to it more and more as the book progresses.”— New York Journal of Books

“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.”— Publishers Weekly

“The book’s tone is careful and professorial, though not academic—there’s the occasional joke and exclamation point. Banaji and Greenwald, professors of psychology at Harvard and the University of Washington, respectively, make a point of sticking close to the data.” — The Washington Post

“In a new book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Banaji and her co-author, Anthony Greenwald, a social psychologist at the University of Washington, turn the conventional way people think about prejudice on its head.” — NPR

“In a brilliant book called Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald provide valuable insights about the causes and consequences of unconscious biases. They also provide us with a framework to identify costly blind spots, and with tools to minimize their risks and negative influences.” — Huffington Post

“Whether we know it or not, we all harbor biases against others and even ourselves, according to the authors of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. But wait, you may be thinking, certainly I’m not prejudiced! Alas, results of research by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald suggest that even the most egalitarian-minded people can show bias for their “group” over others. This hard-wired prejudice evolved as a means of survival, say Banaji and Greenwald. But in a modern world that now values cooperation over competition, their research is working to find ways to “outsmart the machine” in our heads.”— Books for Better Living

“Mahzarin R Banaji, who teaches at Harvard University, and Anthony G Greenwald, professor at University of Washington, have written an intelligible book that packs a serious punch. Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People is all about acknowledging that our mind does have a blind spot, which, in the authors' words, is a portion of the mind that ‘contains a large set of biases and keeps them hidden.’ The authors term these implicit biases "mindbugs", or, simply, ‘ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions.’” — Business Standard

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Wisdom to Share

Once lodged in our minds, hidden biases can influence our behavior toward members of particular social groups, but we remain oblivious to their influence.

When you are asked questions, how often do you give answers that you know are untrue? If your answer is “rarely” or “never,” we hope to convince you that this itself is something you know to be untrue.

We regularly find ourselves attracted to things (and people too) on the basis of color and shape and style, features that appeal to preferences that lie below the surface, while we are indifferent to the more sensible features that clearly are more rational.

Every day, automatic preferences steer us toward less conscious decisions, but they are hard to explain because they remain impervious to the probes of conscious motivation.

The mutually inconsistent ideas we are interested in are those that are the product of our reflective or rational mind, on one hand, and our automatic or intuitive mind, on the other.

Stereotyping achieves the desirable effect of allowing us rapidly perceive total strangers as distinctive individuals.

Even though the workplace is now populated by as many women as men, we suspect that stereotypes remain present because of the strong and dominating presence of women in the home sphere and the strong and dominating position of men in the highest status positions at work.

The stereotypes applied to a group are sometimes self-applied by members of the group to themselves, and in that case the stereotypes may act as self-undermining and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Group stereotypes typically consist of traits that are noticeably more negative than those we would attribute to our friends.