Jennifer Eberhardt is professor of psychology and co-director of SPARQ, a Stanford Center that brings together researchers and practitioners to address significant social problems. Through interdisciplinary collaborations and a wide-ranging array of methods, Eberhardt has revealed the startling extent to which racial imagery and judgments suffuse our culture and society, and in particular shape actions and outcomes within the domain of criminal justice. In her new book, Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think, and Do (Viking, 2019), Eberhardt addresses how racial bias is not the fault of nor restricted to a few "bad apples" but is present at all levels of society in media, education, and business.
Book: Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do
You don’t have to be racist to be biased. Unconscious bias can be at work without our realizing it, and even when we genuinely wish to treat all people equally, ingrained stereotypes can infect our visual perception, attention, memory, and behavior. This has an impact on education, employment, housing, and criminal justice. In Biased, Jennifer Eberhardt offers us insights into the dilemma and a path forward.
Eberhardt draws on a range of social psychological research, including her own work analyzing police-community interactions and designing interventions to mitigate bias. Employing machine learning, video and linguistic analysis, and laboratory experiments, she uncovers biased patterns of speech, gesture, and perception. Her research takes place in courtrooms and boardrooms, in prisons, on the street, and in classrooms and coffee shops. She shows us the subtle–and sometimes dramatic–daily repercussions of implicit bias in how teachers grade students, or managers deal with customers. It has an enormous impact on the conduct of criminal justice, from the rapid decisions police officers have to make to sentencing practices in court.
Eberhardt’s work and her book are both influenced by her own life, and the personal stories she shares emphasize the need for change. She has helped companies that include Airbnb and Nextdoor address bias in their business practices and has led anti-bias initiatives for police departments across the country. Here, she offers practical suggestions for reform and new practices that are useful for organizations as well as individuals.
Unblinking about the tragic consequences of prejudice, Eberhardt addresses how racial bias is not the fault of nor restricted to a few “bad apples” but is present at all levels of society in media, education, and business. The good news is that we are not hopelessly doomed by our innate prejudices. In Biased, Eberhardt reminds us that racial bias is a human problem–one all people can play a role in solving.