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Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do Hardcover – March 26, 2019
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From the Publisher
"A fascinating new book... [Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt is] a genius."—Trevor Noah, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
"Groundbreaking."—Bryan Stevenson, New York Times bestselling author of Just Mercy
“Powerful…useful for those new to the topic as well as those well-versed in the topic...Eberhardt abandons the jargon-speak of academic research and speaks to the reader’s head, heart, and soul...[and] will make you think about the news, your neighborhood, your work place and yourself with fresh eyes.”—Forbes
"An immensely informative and insightful analysis of race-based stereotypes. [Eberhardt] also offers practical suggestions for managing mechanisms of prejudice that 'are rooted in the structures of our brains.'”—Psychology Today
"Explores the reasons for bias of all kinds — racial, religious, gender and more — and lays out research-based strategies that can short-circuit our initial prejudices."—New York Post
"[A] timely, exhaustive investigation of how bias infiltrates every sector of public and private life... Eberhardt offers tips for reforming business practices, police departments, and day-to-day interactions in pursuit of a fairer world for everyone."—Esquire.com
"Combining storytelling with a deep dive into the science of implicit bias, Eberhardt explains how bias and prejudice form—and she describes their pernicious effects on all of us. But she doesn’t stop at the problem: Her book shines a spotlight on what we can do to fight bias at a personal and institutional level.”—Greater Good Magazine
“Compelling and provocative, this is a game-changing book about how unconscious racial bias impacts our society and what each of us can do about it.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Jennifer Eberhardt’s work is essential to helping us understand racial inequalities in our country and around the world.”—Michelle Alexander, author of New York Times bestseller The New Jim Crow
"In accessible language and compelling examples, Dr. Eberhardt draws on copious empirical research to challenge the idea of human objectivity and the tragic outcomes of this false belief. ...This book should be required reading for everyone."—Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility
“This book helps us to scientifically view how racial bias works in our own minds and throughout society. We could not ask for a better guide to understand this reality than Jennifer Eberhardt. Her research reveals critical information that can help leaders better understand how biases can impact our judgment and how we are perceived by the communities we are sworn to serve.”—Kamala D. Harris, United States Senator from California
“Jennifer is one of the great thinkers and one of the great voices of our time…I believe her book will change the conversation on race in our society–and perhaps our society itself.”—Carol Dweck, author of New York Times bestseller Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
“Drawing on her pioneering research, Jennifer Eberhardt’s new book offers a powerful exploration of how racial bias seeps into our classrooms, college campuses, police departments, and businesses.”—Bruce Western, author of Punishment and Inequality in America and Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
“Biased is deeply relevant to education and other fields of work, within the U.S. and globally. Dr. Eberhardt’s work offers a touchstone for educators, leaders, lawmakers, and all those who want a society that serves everyone equally.”—Linda Darling-Hammond, author of The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future
“This is not someone who is just doing work in the ivory tower of a university. This is someone who is really out in the trenches working with police departments and the criminal justice system.”—Chris Magnus, Chief of Police, Tucson, Arizona
“She is saying things that make people uncomfortable, but she has the evidence to back up the reality of what’s she’s describing… [her work is]…original, provocative, and rigorous. I think she has changed the way we all think about the American dilemma of race.”—Susan Fiske, Psychologist, Princeton University
“The hope for progress is greatly increased by Jennifer Eberhardt's groundbreaking new book on implicit bias. Biased presents the science of bias with rare insight and accessibility, but it is also a work with the power and craft to make us see why overcoming racial bias is so critical."—Bryan Stevenson, New York Times bestselling author of Just Mercy
About the Author
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From a Christian perspective:
"The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation" Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker
"One Blood: Parting words to the church on race" John. M. Perkins
"From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race" J. Daniel Hays
From a non-Christian perspective:
"Stamped from the Beginning" Ibram X. Kendi
"White Fragility" by Robin DeAngelo
"Biased: Uncovering Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What we See, Think, and Do" Jennifer L. Eberhardt
I really really enjoyed "Biased." If someone (white) came to me and asked where he should start reading on the issue of race, I would start him with "Biased."
No one likes to be called a racist...so might I interest you in a little bit of biased? Guess what, you are prone to think better of people who look like you. Guess what, everyone else is too. This book does a great job of exposing deep-seated bias without coming across as demonizing people as being closeted Klan members.
If you are at all interested or wondering about the race discussion in America, this is where I think you should start.
Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD captures this tension exquisitely in her new book (releasing tomorrow, March 26), Biased. She takes on the subject of bias in the context of police shootings and other instances of inherent bias in today’s culture. This means that the primary focus is on racial bias and stereotypes, and for good reason: Eberhardt also has personal experience that speaks volumes on this subject. However, Eberhardt does not limit her study to racial bias but also offers examples and insight on gender bias as well. It is a comprehensive view of cognitive bias with a distinct focus.
Eberhardt uses history in order to both portray racial bias and speak on the development of the field of cognitive bias research in the social sciences. She speaks in depth on Social Darwinism and other theories that feed on cognitive bias (subjects that need more direct discussion in our current era), and in order to situate the subject in its historical context she discusses the social scientist Walter Lippman at length. Lippman (who displayed a bit of bias himself throughout his career) was the first to apply the idea of “stereotyping” in the social sciences. Eberhardt quotes Lippman in order to help readers grasp the power of stereotypes:
“There is economy in stereotyping”, he wrote. “For the attempt to see all things freshly and in detail, rather than as types and generalities, is exhausting…. We are not equipped to deal with so much subtlety…. [W]e have to reconstruct it on a simpler model before we can manage with it.”
We stereotype because we’re human and we cannot process data well. It’s simply easier to put things and people into “types and generalities” than it is to process everything separately. And, guess what, a lot of times we are right. But that’s what lulls us into complacency and makes us think our stereotypes are reliable. They are not. They are misleading, dangerous, and destructive. They lead us into bias.
Racial biases seep into every aspect of our lives without our awareness. Eberhardt makes this clear in her original research and relays others’ as well. The following passage contains the most shocking (for me) revelation:
Researchers Max Weisbuch, Kristin Pauker, and Nalini Ambady chose eleven popular television shows that have positive representations of black characters — including CSI and Grey’s Anatomy, where black characters are doctors, police officers, and scientists. The researchers showed study participants ten-second clips of a variety of white characters interacting with the same black character, but with the sound muted and the black characters edited out of the frame. Participants who were unfamiliar with the shows were asked to watch a number of these clips and to rate how much each unseen character was liked and was being treated positively by the white characters on the screen. Sometimes the unseen character was black, and sometimes the unseen character was white. A consistent pattern emerged when the researchers pooled the ratings: participants perceived the unseen black characters in these popular shows to be less liked and treated less positively by the other characters than the unseen white characters. The black characters were surrounded by a cast of white characters who — through their subtle facial expressions and body movements — communicated less regard for them. And the television viewers were affected by this: The more negative the nonverbal actions directed at the unseen black characters, the more antiblack bias the study participants revealed on an implicit association test following the showing. That is, there was evidence for a type of “bias contagion.” The researchers found this to be the case even though the study participants were unable to identify any consistent pattern in treatment of the white and black characters when asked to do so directly.
So where is the hope? Eberhardt devotes much of the book to this question. There are pathways out of bias, although none of them are sure. But there is most definitely hope. Her explorations of tech companies NextDoor and Airbnb share the problems that these giants encountered with respect to stereotyping and bias, but they also provide the solutions that NextDoor and Airbnb employed to successfully combat these issues. I won’t spoil the details of these success stories, but know that they provide hope.
It also seems that exposure and discussion, in the right context, can cure some bias. This does not mean that bias will eventually go away as our world becomes more cosmopolitan. It does not mean we can sit back and wait it out. It means we need to work to provide the environment for such exposure and discussion to occur.
It also means we need to be aware of the bias within ourselves and not think someone is attacking us when it is pointed out, directly or indirectly. I wanted to find a reason to reject the study about TV shows and racial bias, but I found that I couldn’t. Why did it bother me so much? Because if actors in TV shows can display racial bias without even thinking about it, then I could too. Anti-black bias isn’t even contained to white people either (a fact that becomes clear throughout Biased). It is something deeply ingrained in our culture, in our bones, in our unconscious thoughts. Awareness is the first step to dealing with it. Which is why you need to read this book. It haven’t seen or heard of a more coherent and complete discussion of bias. It could be the next classic book in modern cognitive and social psychology.
I received this book as an eARC courtesy of Viking and NetGalley, but my opinions are my own.
Top international reviews
The vision clearly set out in this unparalled and great work, amidst the sometimes painful events and details, is an illumination of how the world can be a much better place for everyone, if we all make deliberate everyday acts to treat everyone in the same way that we would like to be treated ourselves. Unfortunately, we never understand how it's like to be the 'other' until we ourselves go through similar life experiences as the 'other'.
By the way, at the root and centre of all this is the immutable colour of the skin of the 'other'!