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Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People [Kindle Edition]

Mahzarin R. Banaji , Anthony G. Greenwald
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $27.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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
“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
“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

“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

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews


“A riveting book steeped in research that feels personal, sometimes uncomfortably so . . . Banaji and Greenwald capture our attention . . . in this accessible and sobering book.”—BookPage
“Accessible and authoritative . . . This research takes Freud’s dagger into our vanity and twists it.”—The Washington Post
“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
“Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald’s work has revolutionized social psychology, proving that—unconsciously—people are affected by dangerous stereotypes.”—Psychology Today
“A stimulating treatment that should help readers deal with irrational biases that they would otherwise consciously reject.”—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, collaborators for more than thirty years, are kindred spirits in their search to understand how the mind operates in social contexts. Banaji teaches at Harvard University, Greenwald at the University of Washington. With their colleague Brian Nosek, they are co-developers of the Implicit Association Test, a method that transformed them, their research, and their field of inquiry. In this book, for the first time, research evidence from their labs and from the more than fourteen million completed tests at is made available to the general reader.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Your brain associates concepts, and it doesn't always tell you. Drs. Banaji and Greenwald give a great illustration to introduce the testing method that forms the basis for most of this book: imagine that you have a deck of shuffled cards, and you're told to separate them into two piles. Hearts and Diamonds go to your left, and Spades and Clubs go to your right. You can probably do that really quickly, without even having to think, since your brain can just associate the pairs into "Red goes left, Black goes right" - but if you have a different command, like Hearts and Spades go to the left, and Diamonds and Clubs go to the right, you will have to slow down a little. It's not that you can't make up an easy rule or that the question is hard, it's just that your brain has been trained to make an easy association among suits of the same color, so you have to put in just a little more thought when grouping ideas that seem to have less in common.

On this principle, the authors explore the Implicit Association Test to determine what other concepts people's brains have developed in associated groups. For example, you may see a list of words, and for every word that is either a Flower or a Pleasant word, you mark the circle on the left, and for every word that is a Bug or an Unpleasant word, you mark the circle on the right. More likely than not, you will be a little faster at this task than if the words were grouped differently. Where the test gets interesting and psychologically useful, of course, is where it touches on issues of race/gender/age/sexuality/etc. Most people, especially in the relatively sophisticated target audience of this book, honestly insist that they do not discriminate, so the benefit of this testing method is that it unearths biases about which the subject is unaware.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Its easy to accept the idea that the majority of brain activity linked to our physical body occurs outside of conscious awareness (getting out of bed in the middle of the night to urinate, driving home from work with no memory of the trip); its difficult to accept the idea that our attitudes and values have a profound influence on how we treat other people but most of this occurs outside of conscious awareness. The scientific evidence on the latter, and the implications of this work, is at the core of this book. If you are interested in the rapid, relatively automatic social judgments that underlie stereotypes, first impressions, prejudice, benevolence, racism, sexism, and ageism, then you need to read this book.

The authors are the world leading experts on the rapid, non-conscious judgments that people make about other people and themselves. Measures of these automatic/implicit/non-conscious mental processes increased exponentially as a result of their groundbreaking work. Readers unfamiliar with their research are offered a number of different tests where they can assess their own hidden biases. I suspect many readers will be surprised, intrigued, and entertained by these assessment devices. They add a new dimension to understanding the subtleties of how one can be vehement about liberal egalitarian values but still hold non-conscious preferences for young white heterosexual men.

The chapters are brief and the prose is fluid. There are virtually no redundancies in this small volume. Unlike most psychologists and behavioral economists, Banaji and Greenwald do not go into painstaking detail about the methodology of specific studies.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blindspots exposed, so what now? February 1, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Two activities that we tend to engage in automatically when processing information are forming associations and categories which, according to the authors of this book, can impinge upon our reactions to certain groups of people without our conscious awareness.

Describing how the Implicit Association Test (IAT) they've devised can probe the nature of such associations, the authors go on to report that majority of the people who have taken their tests, while describing themselves as having no conscious ill-feelings towards any particular group of people, have been shown to have stereotypes of blacks, homosexuals, and the aged that are less positive than their stereotypes of whites, heterosexuals, and the young, respectively.

The authors believe that these findings indicate that their IAT methodology can expose hidden biases that people have against certain groups of people, but they won't go so far as equating such hidden biases with prejudice. They do think, however, that having such hidden biases is not a good thing, and that the more we can minimize the role that such biases can play in various kinds of decision making, the better off we can be as a society. Having said that, however, they acknowledge that that is easier said than done, because the problem is currently a very difficult one to tackle.

I feel that this book leaves too many questions unanswered, and when you discount the fact that people can harbor unconscious or hidden biases against blacks, homosexuals, and the elderly as something most people already know, then all you have left is a description of a research methodology that so far has mostly been used to infer stereotypical biases quite pervasive in our society (and, therefore, easy to demonstrate and document), but not so much to provide a better understanding of how those biases really differ from prejudice, and how to get in front of those biases in order to lessen their negative impact on society.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Intriguing book with insightful commentary. Certainly worth the read.
Published 4 days ago by pjayem
4.0 out of 5 stars Very very informative
This is a fascinating book. It helps to read it on a tablet because then you can go straight to the authors' website and take their tests . . . Read more
Published 14 days ago by Bearwife
4.0 out of 5 stars Implicit Associations and Mindbugs..... and You Probably Have Both!
Blind Spots is an interesting romp into the world of unconscious stereotyping, why we do it, and how we can either eradicate (or more likely) work around it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kevin Currie-Knight
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Exploration of Everyday Biases, great read
Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People, written by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, examines the origins and implications of ordinary peoples’ biases, stereotypes, and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Anna
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Research but we don't all fit in boxes so neatly
Research and getting out to those of us outside academically is a gift for sure. It helps to know we aren't all as far along as we think with the unconscious ethnocentric wiring we... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Harriet Cannon, author of Mixed Blessings: A guide to Multicultural and Multiethnic Relationships
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives Terrific Insight - Almost Too Much!
This was a great read! It is one of those books you simply cannot put down. I leaned so much about myself, and would recommend this to everyone!
Published 3 months ago by NewBuyer13
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of information about the research and testing methods.
Interesting but very research oriented. Lots of information about how research testing was done. I had some trouble staying with the book which was so loaded with research details.
Published 5 months ago by Jackie C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Becoming Real
It makes you take a look at yourself and that can never be a bad thing. We all think we know our selves, but do we really?
Published 8 months ago by Sharon Dewees
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as new as I'd hoped
It seems that there is now quite a bit of science to back up what most people have always known: we all have deep prejudices and biases that we would rather not accept or even... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Elaine
3.0 out of 5 stars concept is not new
The implicit association test (IAT) is a look at unconscious biases and prejudices that we human beings are generally associated with. Read more
Published 10 months ago by reviewer
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