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Uncovering the hidden biases that shape what we see, think and do
Racism is still a serious problem in the United States, even in the 21st centurystCentury.
The problem, it seems, is the way our human nature evolved.
As Jennifer L. Eberhardt demonstrates, you don't have to be racist:
Who Should Read Biased? And why?
According to Robin DiAngelo, author ofWhite Fragility,Biased"should be required reading for everyone."
And while that's true (especially if you're American), to avoid generalizations, we also cite Linda Darling-Hammond, author ofThe Flat WorldAndEducation: How America's Commitment to Justice Will Shape Our Future:„Biasedis important to education and other fields of work in the United States and around the world. dr Eberhardt's work provides a touchstone for educators, leaders, legislators and anyone who wants a society that serves all equally."
About Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Jennifer L. Eberhardtis an American social psychologist and professor of psychology at Stanford University.
A 2014 MacArthur Fellowship winner, Eberhardt is also co-director of SPARQ (Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions) and has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2016.
Eberhardt, named one of the top 100 global thinkers of foreign policy, is the author of numerous studies on racial discrimination and implicit bias, butBiasedis her first book.
"Biased PDF Summary"
Whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, you are irrefutably, at least to some degree, a racist - although that's not the right term.
You see, we're born with what modern social psychologists call "implicit bias," that is, an innate fondness for people who look like us coupled with an immediate distrust of those who are different.
The teaching office of Jennifer L. Eberhardt,Biased, is an exploration of just that: implicit bias—what it is, where it comes from, how it affects us, and how we can counter it.
Eberhardt describes the phenomenon as "a sort of distorting lens that is both a product of our brain's architecture and of the disparities in our society," Eberhardt immediately explains that it can be associated with anything, meaning we can have prejudices of all kinds having characteristics: skin color, age, weight, race, accent, disability, height, gender.
However,Biasedis primarily about race, and especially about the relationship between blacks and whites, not only because "the racial dynamics between blacks and whites are dramatic, consequential, and enduring," but also because these two groups are "the most studied by researchers became bias."
"We all have ideas about race, even the most open-minded among us," writes Eberhardt in a further definition of the subject of her book.“These ideas have the power to affect our perception, attention, memory, and actions—despite our conscious awareness or intentions. Our ideas about race are shaped by stereotypes that we are exposed to on a daily basis. And one of the strongest stereotypes in American society associates black people with crime.”
But isn't this the once againEuthyphro's Dilemmaplaying? For how could there be a prevailing stereotype if it is not based on fact? But if it's factual, why is it also a stereotype? If it's wrong to associate black people with crime, why are so many African Americans in prison? Can we do something about it?
Those are all questionsBiasedtries to answer. In the following, chapter by chapter, we try to summarize Eberhardt's answers and analyses.
Part I: What catches the eye
Chapter 1: Seeing Each Other
Back in the year 2000, a nowwell-known Stanford studyrevealed something quite remarkable: London cab drivers had enlarged posterior regions of the hippocampus (the part of the brain that plays a crucial role in spatial memory and navigation) compared to a control group of people who didn't drive cabs for work.
In fact, the connection was even more striking: the longer the drivers were on the job and the more experience they had, the larger their posterior hippocampus became.
This inspired Jennifer L. Eberhardt to ask herself a somewhat frightening question: "Since our experiences in the world are reflected in our brains, our expertise in recognizing faces of our own race—and not recognizing those of others—might be a neurobiological one of our own." development also sign?”
To answer that question, Eberhardt joined a team of Stanford scientists who were studying something known as the fusiform face area (FFA). Buried deep near the base of the brain, the FFA helps us distinguish the familiar from the unfamiliar, friend and foe. It is widely believed to be “both primitive and fundamental to our survival as a species. Belonging is a basic human need. Without the ability to trace the identities of those around us, we are left alone, vulnerable and exposed.”
What did the study find out?
"By tracking activation of the FFA across multiple displays of stranger faces," writes Eberhardt, "we found that the FFA was more responsive to faces that were of the same race as the study participant.... We also found that the more dramatic the FFA response to a given face, the more likely study participants were to be able to recognize that stranger's face when later shown the photo again outside of the scanner.”
In other words, the experiment was the first neuroimaging study to reveal that we are bothevolutionaryAndbiologicalhardwired to feel a sense of belonging to those who look like us. More so, that there is “a neural component to racial advantage in the facial recognition process.”
And you know what? On a certain intuitive level we arealreadyknow that!
To demonstrate this, Eberhardt points to the numerous recent cases of black teenagers snatching handbags from middle-aged Chinese women in Oakland's Chinatown. At first, police wondered why the attacks were targeting such a specific group of people, but profilers soon found out why: The black teenagers knew Chinese women would have trouble distinguishing them and therefore could not identify them, themselves if they get caught.
Chapter 2: Promoting prejudice
And we all suffer from that kind of racial blindness that is the by-product of having the same race advantage in the facial recognition process. The less one has interacted with members of another race, the more they tend to generalize about that race.
And not just in terms of psychology or behavior (i.e. the intangibles), but also in terms of something fairly visible and distinguishable like looks. Just as all black teenagers look the same to the average middle-aged Chinese woman, so too all middle-aged Chinese women look the same to the average black teenager.
Humans as a species rely on this type of "categorization" to manage information more efficiently. Like it or not, it's "a fundamental tool that our brains are wired to use. And the categorization process doesn't just apply to people; it works for all things. Just as we categorize humans, we categorize other animals. We divide foods into categories. We divide furniture into categories. And we fill every category that we develop with information and infuse it with feelings that direct our actions towards it.”
However, since categorization precedes experience (Kant was one of the first to notice this), and sinceOur brains evolved to help us survive, not to be right, we tend to only perceive things that support our preconceived notions and ignore facts that contradict them. And we teach our children to do the same through our conscious or unconscious actions.
It is a vicious circle, which we can best illustrate by taking a quote from the "Introduction".Biased(instead of from the second chapter):
This stereotypical association [between black people and crime] is so strong that the mere presence of a black face, even one that appears so fleeting that we are unaware of it, can make us see guns — or us guns — more quickly imagine the ones that aren't there. The mere thought of violent crime can cause us to shift our gaze from a white face to a black face. And while it's not a crime to appear black, juries are more likely to hand down a death sentence on black criminals who are stereotypically black than on those who aren't, at least when their victims are white.
Prejudice can lead to racial differences in everything from preschool suspension to corporate governance. And the differences themselves then reinforce our prejudices. For example, knowing that a disproportionate proportion of violent crimes are committed by young black men can influence judgments about black people in general. It affects how black people are seen in all sorts of situations — whether they're sitting in a classroom or a coffee shop, running a Fortune 500 company, or fighting wildfire in California. The stereotypes overshadow them.
Part II: Where we find ourselves
Chapter 3: A bad guy
Do you remember the case of Philando Castile?
In 2016, he was shot dead seven times by a police officer named Jeronimo Yanez in front of his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter after being pulled over for a traffic violation.
And what about Tamir Rice?
He was just 12 years old, playing with a toy gun at a park in Cleveland, Ohio, when 26-year-old police officer Timothy Loehmann shot him in the chest before he even parked his car. And he wasn't even charged with a crime.
Black lives matter - but they matter less to white people. And the reason is simple: they don't see blacks the way blacks see each other: they see them as a natural threat. Eberhardt conducted some studies that revealed that white police officers were more likely to turn their attention to a black face after being shown a word related to criminal activity.
In other words, it's an unconscious association.
Although only 1% of all police interactions with civilians are nonviolent, this is why blacks suffer the most: white police officers, even when stopped for a minor act,expectthem to be violent based on their preconceived notions and to act accordingly.
Chapter 4: Male Black
Eberhardt and her team analyzed around 28,000 police stops between 2013 and 2014 to see whether the hypothesis described above bears any relation to reality.
Unfortunately, this is the case: based on the evidence, police officers have disproportionately increased the number of times they both stopped and arrested black residents, even in cases where blacks and whites were stopped for the exact same infraction. This, in turn, led to the expected reinforcement of the stereotype: more blacks are in prison, so more blacksshouldbe in prison.
The numbers don't lie: 1 in 4 black people were handcuffed during these police stops, even if no arrests were made. The same was true for only one in 15 whites. For security reasons, according to police officers. And this is the best example of implicit bias you can find.
To make matters worse, the mass incarceration of African Americans is becoming more problematic because the vicious cycle also works in the opposite direction. Just as white cops don't trust "black males" because they're tainted with that kind of skepticism (both organic and cultural), so don't trust "black males" cops because they feel discriminated against; and so they discriminate back.
As Jill Leovy pointed out in itGhettoseiteIn more ways than one, in African American ghettos, it's not gangs that breed lawlessness, it's lawlessness that breeds gangs.
So it's not the way outmoreimprisoned people, but as paradoxical as it may sound,moreLaw:
Decades of research has shown that people in a variety of professions care as much about how they are treated in the course of an interaction as they do about the outcome of that interaction. In the police context, this suggests that people stopped by the police care as much about how police officers treat them as if they had a ticket. In fact, both research and real-world experience have shown that when officers act in accordance with four principles - voice, fairness, respect, trustworthiness - local residents are more inclined to view the police as a legitimate authority and are therefore more likely to comply with the Law.
Chapter 5: How free people think
As shown by Michelle Alexander inThe new Jim Crow, Mass incarceration is basically a modern twist on slavery because it's not primarily an African-American problem — but it's also almost exclusively oneAmericanproblem (with blacks).
Although African Americans make up only about a tenth of the total population in the United States, almost half of the men and women incarcerated are African American! This is an amazing discrepancy that obviously cannot be easily explained in a rational way.
Not only are black arrest rates four times higher than whites, as we detailed above, but their bail is, on average, 35% higher!
No wonder a federal investigation into the death of Michael Brown — fatally shot by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer — found that black people often suffer from what they termed “unlawful bias”!
Chapter 6: The Scary Monster
On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was brutally beaten by LAPD officers during his arrest for fleeing and dodging along California State Route 210. Although the police officers spoke of Rodney King and used explicit racist terms (equating African Americans with monkeys), they were eventually acquitted, an event that sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
just recently,English footballers of African descent were ridiculed in the same way in Bulgaria: Every time one of them touched the ball, supporters of the Bulgarian national team imitated monkey sounds. And that's not an isolated case: it actually happens so often that numerous games have been interrupted because of it - only in France.
Eberhardt shows that this type of racial abuse is not isolated in time either: it has a solid historical basis in many pseudoscientific theories of the 19th and 20th centuriesthCentury that portrayed African Americans as subhuman.
Many people believe this today, although it is known that all humans are from Africa and share a common ancestry.
Part III: The way out
Chapter 7: The Comforts of Home
Even if statistics show otherwise, most Americans (even Black people) tend to associate the presence of a majority of Black people in a neighborhood with higher crime rates. Because of this, modern American society is still separate.
And what does that lead to?
Here's a good example: On Nextdoor.com - a social networking app that connects about 200,000 US neighborhoods - even though most people will sell something or find a good plumber, a "suspicious black man" pops up from time to time - Post .
This type of racial profiling became a serious problem a few years ago and the company contacted Eberhardt to find a solution. Eberhardt recognized that all of these posts owe their existence to people's implicit bias: they judge these "suspect black men" by their looks, not their behavior.
But that's exactly what happensif you think fast: The innate biases and categorizations buried within you spill to the surface because the brain needs to make an instant decision. However, if you think slowly, you can streamline the process.
And that's what Eberhardt suggested to Nextdoor: find a way to delay the posting of "suspicious black" alerts. So Nextdoor added some friction, and for about two years now, for the crime and safety tab, you can't just write - you have to identify behavior that's actually suspicious.
And that process includes "a checklist of reminders" people have to click through before they can post anything "suspicious" about someone:
• Focus on behavior. What worried you about what the person was doing and how does this relate to a possible crime?
• Provide a full description, including clothing, to distinguish between similar individuals. Consider unintended consequences if the description is so vague that an innocent person could be targeted.
• Do not suspect a crime based on someone's race or ethnicity. Racial profiling is expressly prohibited.
This is how the folks at Nextdoor managed to delay the initial reaction of concerned citizens, make users think, and slow them down.
They managed to reduce racial profiling by about 75%!
Chapter 8: Hard Lessons
As everyone knows, racism and implied prejudice can be fought (andhave beenaddressed) through the process of desegregation. The reason is obvious: the more time people of different races spend together, the less inclined they are to act on instinct, for the simple reason that instinct can now give way to experience.
However,forceConnecting with people who are prepared to despise one another has exactly the opposite effect: it only confirms prejudices and inevitably leads to serious problems. Finding common ground with someone who your body and mind tells you is different can only be accomplished through frequent contact—and only over a period of time.
Unfortunately—and almost unknowingly—we seem to have started down the wrong path, which according to research by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, “The number of intensely segregated schools — where fewer than 10 percent of the students are white — has increased in the more than tripled in the last thirty years.”
ForcePeople who go against their instincts without explanation have led to this result. Most white people find it impolite to discuss race and often omit this information even when necessary. Besides, they don't talk about it at all.
"If people focus on not seeing color," Eberhardt writes, "they may not see discrimination either." To paraphrase Mellody Hobson's famous TED Talk, the fight against racismshouldn't be about developing color blindness - but boldness to color. This should be discussed openly and freely. And they should be talking about it in school, where sadly so much is taken at face value these days that, according to a 2017 poll, "only 8 percent of high school seniors could name slavery as the primary reason for the South's secession from the Union." Almost half of the students said it was a protest against taxes on imported goods."
Chapter 9: Higher Education
Segregation is just one of the regressions we've seen in the past decade, as anyone who saw a single video of the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 would attest.
Unfortunately, many white people in the US are afraid of the changing demographics in the US and have started to ask this questionwho must we become as a nation. This has not only led to a rise in prejudice against African Americans, but also a most unexpected rise in anti-Semitic violence: between 2015 and 2017 alone it rose by 60%!
Believe it or not, according to a survey by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, 22% of young Americans who came of age in the 21st century have never heard of the Holocaust. And two-thirds of them—that is, four out of ten Americans overall—failed to identify “Auschwitz” as a Nazi death camp!
As we debate the limits of free speech with people who advocate for equality, right-wing groups have slowly but surely regrouped and begunagainThings no one thought would happen again.
Unfortunately, blatant bigotry is not a relic of the past. "In truth," writes Eberhardt, "bias has bided its time in an implicit world—a place where we need not admit it to ourselves or others, even as it touches our soul and determines our behavior."
Chapter 10: The Bottom Line
One in two white Americans (55% to be exact) believe affirmative action in favor of African Americans discriminates against them.
At the same time, many African-American graduates from first-class schools "whitewash" their resumes (for example, bywith their initials or other names) so as not to trigger the implicit bias of their interviewers. Needless to say, "white" resumesAgainget more interviews.
In other words, implicit bias works within us (and against those who are not like us) even when we say it isn't: that's why it's saidimplicitly. Therefore, it is also difficult to eliminate.
However, uncovering instances of implicit bias at work helps because, on the one hand, it paves the way for a rational (i.e., notinstinctively) discussion, and second, it helps researchers get to the bottom of the root cause and thus suggest ways we can address it.
Key Lessons from Biased
1. You don't have to be racist to be biased
2. African Americans are discriminated against and dehumanized
3. Tackling implicit bias is difficult—but doable
You don't have to be racist to be biased
"When people think of racism," says Jennifer L. Eberhardt inan interview forTimemagazine, "They think of fanatics. But one need not have a moral failing to act implicitly biased.”
In other words, even if you are consciously opposed to racists and racism, you are implicitly biased because (as numerous studies have shown) you have been evolutionarily programmed to love those who are like you and to doubt those who are not. who aren't.
This is an implicit bias, a kind of "distorting lens" etched into your eyes that, unfortunately, is made even more distorted by the differences in our society.
African Americans are discriminated against and dehumanized
Although African Americans make up only 12% of the US population, they also account for a staggering 40% of the total number of incarcerated criminals in the country.
If you think this is because they deserve more - justice is blind and all - think differently: Eberhardt examined 28,000 random police stops conducted between 2013 and 2014, only to find that African Americans commonly handcuffed wear (1 in 4 people) as opposed to white Americans (1 in 15)!
Additionally, bail for an average African American inmate is, on average, 35% higher than bail for a white American.
This is not because someone is deliberately discriminating against African Americans. That's because the people in our institutions are mostly white, and they areprimedsubconsciously discriminating against people who are not like them.
And it goes so far that experiments have shown that white people still unconsciously think of black people as something almost subhuman. Racists just make this equation a little clearer.
Tackling implicit bias is difficult—but doable
Because this discriminatory bias is implicit by definition, it is difficult to eradicate.
However, there are some things that will help alleviate it:
• Open discussions about instances of implied bias (not speakabove is what has spawned right wing groups)
• Additional friction in the decision-making process: the quicker a person should make a decision about something, the more instinctive their decision will be (this is why police officers often shoot African Americans);
• Creation of segregated schools (more contact leads to more experience, and more experience tends to negate prejudice over time).
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"Biased Quotes"When people focus on not seeing color, they may not see discrimination either.Click here to tweetWhen police kill unarmed black suspects, these deaths are associated with a significant decline in black mental health across the state where these killings took place.Click here to tweetImplicit bias is a kind of distorting lens that is both a product of our brain's architecture and the differences in our society.Click here to tweetIt is incredible to believe that officers could be ... immersed in an environment that repeatedly exposes them to the categorical pairing of black people with crime without affecting how they think, feel or behave.Click here to tweetOnly 8 percent of high school seniors could name slavery as the main reason for the South's secession from the Union. Almost half of the students said they were protesting taxes on imported goods.Click here to tweet
Our critical review
Bryan Stevenson, the author ofMercy only, deemsBiased"groundbreaking" shortly after publication, saying it presented "the science of bias with rare insight and accessibility."
And how could it be otherwise, if, to use the words ofWay of thinking Author Carol Dweck: "Jennifer is one of the great thinkers and one of the great voices of our time." Dweck believes that "her book will change the way we talk about race in our society—and maybe our society itself." We're not so optimistic , but hope for the same result. Because if this book doesn't convince you that what you believe and think you know is just something your brain wants you to do — and isn't necessarily based on reality — then very few books willmay, let aloneWille.
Learn more and more, at the speed the world demands.