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Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  813 Ratings  ·  148 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
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Delacorte Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Dec 17, 2012 Kurt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kurt by: Amazon Vine
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 lef ...more
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
Peter Mcloughlin
This is a book about the unconscious biases of good people. The book centers around the results from implicit association tests. Many of us in 21st century America are conscious egalitarians. We consciously believe it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of race,class, gender or sexual orientation. However unfortunately we carry unconscious biases which we largely have no control over. These biases show up on an implicity association test. the test usually involve rapidly responding and clicki ...more
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
Sep 14, 2016 Yaaresse rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned-dnf
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." Humans pick up these biases. As society has evolved (which, looking at daily headlines, is a questionable assumption), prejudice/bias is now considered "bad." We know consciously

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
Jul 26, 2013 Koroviev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mohammad Ali Abedi
These guys developed a test called the IAT test. IAT stands for Implicit Association Test, which is to test how you react to something unconsciously, mainly in terms of stereotypes. The test tries to see how we associate positive or negative words with different stereotypes. For example, it tells us to click a certain keyboard (if the test is online) button for any word on the screen that is positive (such as good, wonderful) and then do the same for a picture of a black person (we should press ...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"
Dana DesJardins
Sep 05, 2013 Dana DesJardins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While not well written (always a deterrent in recommending a book), this cites study after study to explain why we THINK we think one way, but actually think another. The subtitle about "hidden biases" will frighten off anyone who hasn't already become aware that what they wish they believed is not always consistent with how they act. Using layman's analyses of evolutionary biology, the authors explain how humanity has been predisposed to prefer those "like us," then exposes how arbitrary our de ...more
Raman K
Blindspot was an intriguing novel. I had gone to a conference that was led by this author and so I found that a lot of the exercises and examples in the book I had already done them. It was a really good refresher and I think it’s interesting to learn about your own biases. It is very educational.
Bob Collins
Jun 24, 2016 Bob Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book went in a different direction than I expected. It dealt mostly with social biases - that is biases that are primarily caused by the society in which we live that hook into our natural "us vs. them" unconscious bias. The authors did a good job of showing how these types of biases are pervasive and mostly invisible to us; we tend to be totally unaware of these social biases, like race biases, gender biases, and so on. And the biases run so deep through society that even many of those who ...more
Max Stone
Jul 18, 2015 Max Stone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The content is great and interesting. To steal from another review that summarized it better than I could:

"(a) Humans are really good at detecting patterns
(b) All cultures include assumptions about groups
(c) Humans absorb these assumptions as implicit associations regardless of their explicit beliefs
(d) More privileged people grossly underestimate the harm from small acts of prejudice against less privileged people
(e) Good people try to recognize these mindbugs and seek ways to work around
Morgan Blackledge
May 25, 2014 Morgan Blackledge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man alive this is a challenging book. Not in the usual "hard to understand" sense, it's actually written in crisp, plain language. This book is challenging because of the difficult, but important realizations it engenders.

This book challenges the seductive and deeply intuitive sense of certainty most (if not all) of us posses in regards to our own and our fellow human beings behavior. That being said, it's a deeply gratifying read in so far as it is quite enlightening when all is said and done.
Pete Welter
Apr 20, 2014 Pete Welter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The authors of this book are the original researchers behind the Implicit Association Test (IAT) - a technique for sussing out our subconscious biases. Although the book obviously explains it in great detail, the essence of the test relies on the fact that we recall things we categorize closely more quickly that things that we don't see as similar. So, an example they use is that we more closely associate positive words with flowers and negative words with insects. That might seem trivial, but i ...more
You’re not racist, right? I mean, if given two equally qualified candidates for a job you were hiring for, you’d be just as likely to give it to the Black person as the White person, right? And you’re in favor of same sex marriage, so you definitely don’t give any preference to straight people, right?

Not so fast. The premise of this book – which is backed up by some pretty solid science – is that we all hold biases in our unconscious minds that influence what we do. Because they are unconscious
Jul 24, 2016 Nina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very timely reading, given all the police vs black community issues in the media, and the insanity of the GOP. Our subconscious minds carry discrimination in ways our conscious minds don't acknowledge, and it subtlety influences our behavior. Ingrained habits of thought lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions. I liked having links to the implicit association tests that allow you to uncover your own hidden biases. "We now know that automatic White preference is per ...more
Jun 06, 2016 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education, science
Social psychologists, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald sum up their research into hidden biases in this short readable book. Building primarily on their work with the Implicit Association Test, they demonstrate how we all have automatic associations of which we aren't always conscious that inadvertently can lead us to make discriminatory decisions. These ideas are as profound as they are disturbing. Anyone who cares about issues of equity should grapple with the implications that "min ...more
Jul 22, 2016 Joann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a while now, I have been thinking about how prejudice and bias are part of human nature (our lizard brain, tamed but not eliminated by the development of the frontal lobe), but that this is not an excuse for succumbing to them. This book both validated that belief and gave me new language with which to describe about it.

This book posits that our brains are designed to categorize people and things in order to make sense of the world. Stereotyping and all that results from it is an unfortunate
Andrew Frueh
A thought provoking book, even if the content (as other reviewers have noted) may have been better suited for a magazine article. I had just finished Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions when I heard one of the authors on a podcast episode of On Being. The work they were doing seemed very aligned with what I had just heard from Dan Ariely, so I decided to continue on this train of thought.

The core findings of the book revolve around a psychological test developed by
John Wood
This book delves into our psychological blind spot, the subconcious biases that can affect our actions. Despite what we consciously think, this blind spot also controls our emotions and actions. The authors are noted authorities on the subject and developed a test, the IAT or implicit association test, to explore this phenomenom. There are different tests on many aspects such as racial, gender and age bias. The reader can take the provided tests from the book or go to The b ...more
Jun 11, 2014 Alice rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Doug Bonar
The tests are clever Skeptic that I am, I wonder how stable they are to changes in the word lists and categories. (I understand that in specific studies that type of variation might be hard, but it seems like the web site could provide many minor variants on the tests. Since the claim is that the tests are stable with respect to knowing how the test works, it should be possible to get some people to take multiple versions of the same basic test to establish links between them.) That's a quibble ...more
Jan 10, 2015 Larry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Given the moderate ratings for this book on Goodreads, I was not expecting great scholarship, but neither was I expecting a sophomoric effort. It's ultimately a treatise on how racially biased America still is. I'll offer just a couple of many areas where they falter. In the beginning, they have the reader take some tests that are intended to show hidden bias. Assumptions are made about the speed in which a person chooses a pairing of objects with what the testers have designated as positive or ...more
Dec 11, 2015 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Nov 09, 2013 Carly marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I've heard Dr Banaji give a talk.
It was kind of totally awesome.
I put this one on hold as the next of my Popcorn* Popsci books.

*Light, fluffy, a ton of butter and seasoning and not all that much substance, but utterly addictive.
Annie Smidt
Aug 30, 2016 Annie Smidt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
Interesting and important topic, oddly dull and frustrating book.

The insistence on gender binaries really bugged me — especially in a book about prejudice and preconceived ideas.

About halfway through, the authors started a trope about how nothing is really proven or can be interpreted definitively, which the then went back and forth about inn the appendices. For better or worse, I found it a weird set up for a (social) science book for laypeople. Usually, authors, even of science, seem less af
Apr 12, 2016 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting experiments but too technical
Jim Razinha
I participated in a workshop on Inclusion and Diversity and the presenters quoted from this book, so I found it and read it. Mixed thoughts. I've seen the IAT (Implicit Association Test) cited in other works and was familiar with the tests and the conclusions...this pretty much beat the subject into the ground. Okay, okay! Even if we don't think we have biases, the data show we do, and if we do acknowledge we have biases, the data show they are worse than we think.

The best takeaway from this bo
Michael Sclafani
Jul 02, 2016 Michael Sclafani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
Pretty devastating book, which not only has far reaching implications for how we handle issues of race and sex, but also just how we treat everyone in our society. While the observations are not overwhelmingly new (i.e. humans are overwhelmingly biased in how we treat others) the evidence is upsetting and the effects are further reaching than I would have thought.

I am grateful that they take the final chapter to consider solutions to these problems, they are predictable tough to swallow. Unfortu
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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.” 1 likes
“the hidden race bias revealed by the Race IAT is unwelcome news to many who receive an automatic White preference result from the test, and it is probably also distressing to these same people to learn now that the Race IAT is a moderate predictor of racially discriminatory behavior. Included” 0 likes
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