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Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People Hardcover – February 12, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

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 implicit.harvard.edu is made available to the general reader.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; 1 edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553804642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553804645
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kurt Conner VINE VOICE on December 17, 2012
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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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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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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