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Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  5,448 ratings  ·  673 reviews
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 nati
Hardcover, 254 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Delacorte Press
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Susan Phillips It's very research based. So if you are comfortable and interested in reading about brain research and psychology, then it's pretty enjoyable. The sub…moreIt's very research based. So if you are comfortable and interested in reading about brain research and psychology, then it's pretty enjoyable. The subtitle is really perfcet- because it's not about Racism, it's about why our brains have evolved to protect us in certain ways and now those animal skills have made us pretty uncivilized, often times without seeing it. (less)
Debbie Yes, the “action team” school committee I’m on decided to have a summer book club and chose Blind Spot. You don’t need any other materials because the…moreYes, the “action team” school committee I’m on decided to have a summer book club and chose Blind Spot. You don’t need any other materials because there are online tests within the book. It made for good discussions. You can go either way, either personal or stay at a more technical level as you like. It was more about the science behind bias/racism. We all have what’s called “mindbugs” that we are unaware of that we are blind to. (less)

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I made it almost halfway through the book and then realized I am under no obligation to finish something I find this dull and obvious.

Your Cliff Notes for this book: Humans like categories and are very good at recognizing patterns. Humans live in cultures. Cultures tend to be homogeneous and distrust "otherness." Individuals pick up these biases from their cultures. As society has evolved (which, looking at daily headlines, is a questionable assumption), prejudice/bias is now considered "b
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The short form:

Humans are really good at detecting patterns
All cultures include assumptions about groups
Humans absorb these assumptions as implicit associations regardless of their explicit beliefs
More privileged people grossly underestimate the harm from small acts of prejudice against less privileged people
Good people recognize these mindbugs and seek ways to work around them

Try and be excellent to each other

Library copy
This was an all-faculty read at my school. To be honest, if you've got any passing familiarity with the general coverage of issues of race, racism and identity going around in the press for the last several years, you're likely going to have heard much of this before. Nonetheless, it does gather a lot of what you've likely read together and put together in a lucid, linear structure, walking the reader through neuropsychological structures that can lead to negative stereotypes forming, from our b ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book, but it’s a few years old, so unfortunately didn’t include the latest bias research.

There wasn’t new information. If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and probably a few other books, you won’t likely gain much from this one. 3.5 stars.
Justin Morgan
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Interesting but repetitive. It was repetitive and there were some good observations but it was very repetitive. Didn't finish the book. ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-justice
An excellent book highlighting what we all fear we have deep down... some biases that may influence our behavior toward others different from ourselves in some way. A fully accessible survey of the scientific literature on the subject and an in depth review of the Implicit Association Test, which is a quick and simple way for individuals to evaluate themselves. Check it out.

Once any hidden biases are brought to our consciousness, then we can actively work
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Interesting insights, boring delivery. Half the book is about racial stereotyping, which seems to be a hot media issue these days. You might think that this book about how everyone harbors some level/version of prejudice, but it's actually about how YOU harbor some level/version of prejudice. Even if you don't know it. ...more
I highly recommend this book. It explores in-depth the finding that unconscious attitudes can influence people's actions without their knowledge. Using data obtained using the Implicit Association Test (developed at Harvard), the authors make a convincing case to convince the reader that, yes, you probably are prejudiced in ways you don't know, and yes, those prejudices impact your actions in ways which would horrify you if you knew about it.

It's another way to understand what "white privilege"
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who likes the genre of books like Freakonomics and The Tipping Point this is a great read. And for anyone else whose interested in the intersection of science and behavior with issues like structural racism and sexism (and plenty of other 'isms'), I'd highly recommend this book.

Implicit-Association Test (IAT) is a relatively new social psychology test designed to "detect the strength of a person's automatic association between mental representations of objects in memory." It makes a
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was assigned parts of this for orientation at school, and finished it mostly out of spite. Implicit bias is a totally worthwhile topic, but this book was just not great. At one point it suggests that racial stereotypes are maybe ok when they’re positive stereotypes. At another, the author tells a racist joke to make the point that things can be simultaneously offensive and funny, or something...? (The joke was not funny). A bizarre chart categorizes gay and lesbian as genders. A throwaway joke ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a great book for someone (white) who is just beginning to think about racism. The instruments the authors use are intriguing for what they reveal about unconscious biases, and the basic revelations about the connections between those biases and racial (and other) stereotypes are solid. However, for someone who is looking for meatier fare about racism--especially its embeddedness in social institutions--this book will leave you hungering for more.
Eric Sutton
An interesting work, though the "Good People" of the title is a bit misleading. Good intentions can be damaging, of course, but this book focuses more on the science behind our biases, which applies to most of us, across racial and gender (among others) divides, not just those deemed "good." The book posits what most of us already know: we are racist and sexist and show preferences and biases whether we consciously understand them or not. We have been conditioned through capitalism and social at ...more
Mike Cuenca
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this books refutes any claim that the United States is in a post-racial era. Statistical and other scientific evidence presented in the book clearly establish that minority Americans face disadvantages that can be at least partially attributed to either conscious or non-conscious bias. The fact that most of this bias occurs outside the awareness of the perpetrators highlights the need for more education and counseling about how we all need to accept that we may not always be as egalitari ...more
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read book for everyone who is concerned with race relations, equity, and justice. These two researchers demonstrate how even good people can harbor unconscious prejudice in race, gender, age, religion, and weight. However, the real focus of the book is on race. Institutional and explicit racism have hurt black Americans and continue to prevent them, as a group, from making progress in America. Orwell said it best in "Animal Farm": "All animals are equal but some are more equal tha ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really an interesting and also a disturbing book. It requires some test taking as you read, so my recommendation is to read it on a tablet kindle app, and just go straight to the online website via the provided link to do the tests. I am appalled at my own implicit biases now, but at least I know they are there and my conscious brain can now work on trying to correct them. This is one of those books every "good person" should read. ...more
Jun 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the past year and a bit I have taken a deeper dive into the psychological, non-fiction realm. Partly due to my own peculiarities in wanting to know why we humans behave the way we do (and to understand my odd brain faults), but also to get a better understanding for the ongoing deeply-rooted social and political issues (ie. systemic racism, gender stereotyping, etc.) that we are up against. Like many, I've been wondering what I can do to help solve these global human rights problems, and so ...more
Graeme Newell
This book explains the topic of implicit bias in decision making. Most of us believe we are rational beings and our decisions are primarily based upon a stone-cold evaluation of the facts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Research shows that at least 85% of the human decision-making process is completely subconscious. The decision-making process goes something like this: we feel something in our subconscious mind, then we enroll our conscious mind in finding evidence to verify what we al
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book, I believe must be read by almost anyone who is unaware of the idea of Implicit Association (as I was). The main text is only 167 pages, the rest is Appendices, Notes and Index. For the 167 pages of text, the information content is very good.

At the heart of it, the book explains the presence of blindspots, i.e. presence of implicit associations that our brain makes, without our conscious awareness, between groups and certain characteristics/properties. Such unconscious bias may (and u
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it

This book is a result of the research of psychologists Banaji and Greenwald using the Implicit Association Test (more information about the test and the actual tests are available on their website They examine hidden biases people may have regarding thing such as race, gender, and age as well as a number of other things. They look at what those hidden biases may mean in regards to our behavior and what if anything we can do to guard against them. It's defi
Short and accessible, free of unnecessary jargon, I think that Blind Spot effectively achieves the goal of showing the gap between explicit and implicit attitude/bias.

Taking advantage of their praising implicit bias tests (IAT), the authors drag your attention toward the realization that although explicit racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. may “seem” to belong to previous centuries, the unconscious (also referred to as hidden or automatic) forms are clearly still operational. Like, in most of us, in
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been two months since I have been able to settle my mind to concentrate on a book. I thought that reading about the Hidden Biases of Good People would make me more understanding of those whose opinions are different than mine, but it hasn't made me feel any better. I'm still upset at those who have supported the campaign for and cast votes for a selfish, greedy, manipulative asshole. The point of this book is to point out that we ALL have biases. Some of us have the ability to recognize t ...more
Darren McG
Very interesting and timely read for our society today. The book is loaded with scientific information and observational insight on how the mind works to shape our view of those similar to us and different from us. The Implicit Association Test is very fascinating. But as noted in the book it can be potentially very traumatizing to learn your own hidden biases. This book (or the concepts within it) should be required reading for anyone who works with diverse clients or customers, handles complex ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cmc
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great and fairly quick read for 2017. This book focuses on out hidden biases, those that operate below our level of consciousness. It includes instruments to test your own hidden biases on a number of marginalized groups, race foremost among them. Most of us, including members of marginalized groups, will discover that as much as we proclaim our commitment to equality for all, our unconscious brain is operating under the surface trying to reinforce systemic biases in our culture and institutio ...more
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are very few books that I would put on my "must read" list, and this - along with Man's Search for Meaning" - is one of them. Certainly not a well-known book, written by two social psychologists, it explores "the hidden biases of good people." It also provides the reader with several good self assessments about his/her own biases. I am currently reading it for the third time. ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because I had already taken the IAT and read a fair amount about it before I read this book, there wasn't much new here for me. And the treatment of racism in the book is pretty simplistic. But it's a good introduction to the idea of implicit bias and will open eyes for those who aren't otherwise steeped in this stuff. ...more
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, 2015, bard
I love this book.
Iʻve listened to it a few times, while doing other stuff, and with pretty fast pace.
So much insight. Iʻll listen to it again a few more times over time since I no longer need to worry about returning some forms of library books on time...
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Full disclosure, I could only skim. This is very basic and workable for someone with almost no knowledge of implicit associations, equity, or modern life. I’m assuming three stars for someone new to this material.
Dawn Stamper
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book will likely challenge you. You will be asked to full in the face of your own hidden biases and confront them. The question will be, what do you do with the knowledge you gain?
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Would recommend

This book is about evidence-based studies about implicit association/unconscious bias/cognitive dissonance, and although it is not quite popular science, the tone is conversational and accessible. The authors fully concede their own biases, and that helps humanize the findings. Also, taking the Implicit Association Tests that the authors developed is VERY eye-opening. Unfortunately, the book is short on solutions (because are there really any?), but it's worth the read to get a be
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“Those studies showed that White Americans consistently received more help than Black Americans. The only harm done to Black Americans in those studies was the consequence of inaction—the absence of helping. This left them without advantages that were received by the White Americans who were, by contrast, helped. We can call this hidden discrimination, in the same way that the discrimination displayed in the story of Carla’s hand surgery is hidden. Discrimination is hard to perceive because it does not present itself in obvious comparisons, where we must decide in a single moment whether to help one or the other. These behaviors happen in sequence, allowing the fact that one was helped and the other not to remain in our blindspot.” 2 likes
“A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies at the scene and the son, badly injured, is rushed to the hospital. In the operating room, the surgeon looks at the boy and says, “I can’t operate on this boy. He is my son.” How cant his be?
If you’re immediate reaction is puzzlement, that’s because automatic mental associations caused you to think “male” on reading “surgeon”. The association surgeon = male is part of a stereotype.”
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