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Mahzarin Banaji

13 Podcast Episodes

Latest 17 Sep 2022 | Updated Daily

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Can we unlearn implicit biases? With Mahzarin Banaji, PhD

Speaking of Psychology

The idea that people have biases that operate below the level of conscious thought is uncomfortable. But decades of research have found that many people who would never consciously agree with prejudiced statements against Black people, LGBTQ people or women can nonetheless harbor implicit biases toward these groups and others. Mahzarin Banaji, PhD, one of the pioneers of implicit bias research, talks about where implicit biases come from, the difference between implicit bias and prejudice, and which biases have lessened – and which have not – in recent years.     Links     Mahzarin Banaji, PhDSpeaking of Psychology Home Page

51mins

13 Jul 2022

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Mahzarin Banaji, Harvard Psychologist & ‘Blindspot’ Author (from P&G’s “More Than Soap” podcast)

Learnings from Leaders: the P&G Alumni Podcast

“The study of Implicit bias asks are we doing our job as well as we can be? To be consistent with values, goals and intentions — we want to do something about it.“ Dr. Mahzarin Banaji is an award-winning experimental psychologist and professor at Harvard University and the author of “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People.” Her research explores the human mind, why and how we think and feel, especially in social context. Dr. Banaji helped create world-renowned frameworks to better identify and address implicit human biases, and she’s the co-creator of the Implicit Association Test, which has been used +40 million times worldwide. You’ll learn how human beings think, the nature of subconscious human biases, and how individuals and organizations can combat implicit bias - and why it will make an outsized impact. But Dr. Banaji is not exactly a P&G Alumni, so what’s the deal? Alongside our partners at P&G, we’re thrilled to share another episode of P&G’s “More Than Soap” podcast - available exclusively each week to P&G Employees at GetMoreThanSoap.com. On “More Than Soap,” P&G shares weekly conversations with Inspiring guests, unique perspectives, and unconventional ideas. “More Than Soap” is P&G’s official internal podcast - available  to all 100,000 P&G employees worldwide, and hosted by Dorion Positano, P&G’s Director of New Business and Content Innovation. Interested in learning more about P&G’s “More Than Soap” podcast, or P&G Studios, can reach out directly to Dorion on LinkedIn. GetMoreThanSoap.com

55mins

8 May 2022

Similar People

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131: Implicit Bias with Dr. Mahzarin Banaji

Your Parenting Mojo - Respectful, research-based parenting ideas to help kids thrive

Explicitly, nobody really believes in gender stereotypes anymore, but when we look at the world, and who's where and how much money people make, and so on, it still seems to be there. And the answer to that is yeah, because it's there. It's just not something we say. It’s more of something we do.-Dr. Mahzarin Banaji What is implicit bias? Do I have it (and do you?)? Does my (and your?) child have it? And if we do have implicit bias, what, if anything, can we do about it?Join me in a conversation with Dr. Mahzarin Banaji, former Dean of the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and co-creator of the Implicit Association Test, for an overview of implicit bias and how we can know if we (and our children) have it.This episode will be followed by a second part in this mini-series where we dig deeply into the research, where results are complex and often contradictory. Stay tuned! Jump to highlights:(01:00) An intro of Dr. Mahzarin Banaji(02:58) What is implicit bias?(07:48) Differentiating bias that you are aware of and bias that you aren’t aware of(08:56) Describing the Implicit Association test(18:11) What the research says about where implicit bias comes from(24:50) Development of group preference from implicit association(32:18) Group bias and what its implications towards individual psychological health(40:44) What can be done to potentially prevent implicit biases from developing?(46:56) Some good progress with society’s bias in general and areas that needs working on Resources:Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People [accordion][accordion-item title="Click here to read the full transcript"]Jen 00:02Hi, I'm Jen and I host the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. Jen 00:06We all want our children to lead fulfilling lives but it can be so hard to keep up with the latest scientific research on child development and figure out whether and how to incorporate it into our own approach to parenting. Here at Your Parenting Mojo, I do the work for you by critically examining strategies and tools related to parenting and child development that are grounded in scientific research and principles of respectful parenting. Jen 00:29If you'd like to be notified when new episodes are released, and get a FREE Guide called 13 Reasons Why Your Child Won't Listen To You and What To Do About Each One, just head over to YourParentingMojo.com/SUBSCRIBE. Jen 00:42You can also continue the conversation about the show with other listeners in the Your Parenting Mojo Facebook group. I do hope you'll join us. Jen 01:00Hello, and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. Today we're going to look at the topic of implicit bias. Now I've been thinking for a while about running a series of episodes on the connection between our brains and our bodies because I've been learning about that and the wisdom that our bodies can hold and wondering, well how can we learn how to pay more attention to our bodies? And then I started thinking about intuition. And I wondered, well, how can we know if we can trust our intuition? What if our intuition is biased? So I started looking at the concept of implicit bias and it became immediately clear who I should ask to interview Dr. Mahzarin Banaji. Dr. Banaji studies thinking and feeling as they unfold in a social context with a focus on mental systems that operate in implicit or unconscious mode. Since 2002, she has been Richard Clarke Cabot professor of social ethics in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, where she was also the Chair of the Department of Psychology for four years while holding two other concurrent appointments. She has been elected fellow of a whole host of extremely impressive societies and was named William James Fellow for a lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology by the Association of Psychological Science, an organization of which she also served as president. Along with her colleague, Dr. Anthony Greenwald. She's conducted decades of research on implicit bias and co-authored the book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. Jen 02:21I should also say that there are a lot of issues that we only got a chance to skim over at a fairly high level in this conversation, which I'm recording this introduction afterwards, because Dr. Banaji was quite pressed for time. And I'm planning to release an episode that follows up into these issues and dives into them at a much deeper level soon. So please consider this part one of a two-part conversation with you. Jen 02:42Alright, let's go ahead and get started with the interview. Jen 02:45Welcome Dr. Banaji. Thanks so much for being here. Dr. Mahzarin Banaji 02:48Hi there. Jen 02:49So I wonder if we can start out by understanding a bit more about what implicit bias is. I hear it all over the place, and can you help us to just define what that is, please? Dr. Mahzarin Banaji 02:58Sure. So implicit bias, quite simply, is a tendency in every human being to favor one individual over another, one social group over another, and to do so without conscious awareness, or without the ability to be able to exert conscious control over the judgement that one is making. So let's just break the phrase down into the two words that constitute it. The word implicit and the word bias, okay? Bias, what is it? It's simply for us a deviation from neutrality, it is privileging one option over another, right? If I say I prefer blue to red, I'm biased in favor of blue, and not in favor of red relatively speaking. So that for us is what a bias is. And implicit just means that that favoring of red over blue or blue over red is something that I'm not even aware of. It's just that when I go into a store, I pick up clothing that is all blue rather than red. That put together tells us that implicit bias is a deviation from neutrality in ways we ourselves would not be happy to see ourselves doing. If it's in the domain of color, who cares whether I prefer blue to red or red to blue but imagine now that it's not blue and red. Imagine that it is a native born child in the classroom, and an immigrant child in the classroom. And even though I as a teacher believe very much that both should be treated equally that is to say, if they do something good, I should reward both equally. If they did something that's bad behavior, I should reprimand them equally, I should encourage both equally to pursue new things in their lives. I should support both of them equally to meet their goals and so on. A deviation from neutrality would mean that I'm doing these things both the good and bad things in order to teach a child something, that I'm doing them selectively, that I'm doing more for one category over another. So that's all biases. And teachers are so well intentioned, just like parents, what they want is the best for all of the kids in their class. And so when we discovered that a teacher may not be aware but is systematically calling on certain people in the classroom, or saying, "Aha!" or "Good idea!" to some rather than others, then we would say it's implicit. And as you can imagine, teachers, by and large, are very good people and so when they're biased it is almost always without their awareness. Jen 05:41Okay, so is this lack of awareness perspective, that's really the key, then? Dr. Mahzarin Banaji 05:45That's exactly right. And the reason this is interesting is because if you look in almost any society, but let's just take American society or the Western world or whatever, some large group of people, you will notice that explicit forms of bias have been coming down, at least in what people say on a survey. If you say to a teacher, "Do you think that native born children are just inherently smarter than immigrant children?" The teacher will likely say, "No, I don't believe that that is the case at all. I think all children are talented in all these different ways." So if you measure it explicitly, if you say, "Tell me is this immigrant kid better or worse than this native one kid?" You will not see any evidence of bias. But when you sit in the back of the classroom, and you just measure what the teacher is doing, who the teacher looks at who the teacher says nice things to who the teacher calls on, and you see that there is a systematic difference, then we say we must become interested in this, because the child is experiencing these good and bad things the teacher is doing, but the teacher has no awareness. And think about the child. What does the child think is going on? The child might think I'm bad, or I'm good, right? And that's why we should be interested in both kinds of measures, what people say to us directly, and also what they may not be able to say because they don't think they're that way. Jen 07:10Okay, I'm wondering if we can just pull that apart a little bit. And we're sort of using teachers as an example. But this could just as well apply to managers or anyone in any situation. I can understand if a researcher were to come and say, "Do you think that native born children have different capabilities than immigrant children?" Then, I understand the correct thing for me to say in that moment is "No, of course not." But I may still be thinking that and I may have awareness that I'm thinking that. So I'm trying to understand the difference between an explicit bias that I know it's not a socially correct thing to say, and implicit bias that I might not be aware of, how can I parse that difference? Dr. Mahzarin Banaji 07:48Yeah, it's a great question. For now, I would say, an explicit bias is something that you know, even if you don't say it to other people, but you know. So let's say that I believe that boys are better at math than girls are. But I'm not going to say that because I don't want my girl students to hear that or feel bad about that. And so I'm not going to say it, but I think it and I'm able to consciously put those words together in my mind, boys are better at math than girls, I know that. As long as that is the case, we would say it's consciously accessible to you. Your mind is capable of saying A is better than B or whatever and to do that to yourself, at least. What makes it implicit is when you say boys and girls are equally good at math, I believe it. You never say to yourself; boys are better at math than girls. But if we look at some other aspects of your behavior, who you spend more time teaching a difficult math problem to, etc., then we would say it is. Jen 08:56Okay, perfect. Thank you for helping us to understand that distinction. And so then I wonder if we can go from there into the Implicit Association test, which is something you've spent a bit of time working on over the years. Can you tell us what that is? And how does that measure implicit bias? Dr. Mahzarin Banaji 09:11Yeah. So as you can imagine, your listeners and you will easily see what the problem is. A person, if asked genuinely and truly says, "I have no bias." And when you measure their judgments and actions in some way, you're seeing a systematic effect. How do you measure that? When the person themselves is saying no? In psychology, we've relied for over 100 years on what we call explicit measures. If you want to know something about what a person is thinking, ask them. How stressed are you feeling? Okay. Well, sometimes maybe I can tell you that I'm feeling stressed. But there are lots of studies where people like me say that they're not stressed at all and you'll see me breaking out into hives or something, which is a response to the stress. Now you have to have a measure of those hives, you have to be able to measure skin complexion, you know, when one is stressed and not stressed and say whether the person knows it or not, there is some physical response that we can measure. What can we do when the response we are looking for is locked up between our ears in a box that is not easy to penetrate? So the first thing to do is to just imagine the difficulty of trying to even track anything implicit and the measure that you mentioned, the one that we are most familiar with, and the one that I believe today is the dominant measure of implicit cognition in the science as a whole is the Implicit Association test, and I'm one of three co developers of that test. The test has a very simple assumption that underlies it. The assumption is that when two things in our experience have come to go together repeatedly, they're joined in time and in space, let's say, that they become one for us. If when I see bread, there is usually a bowl of butter, bread and butter come to be associated when I think bread, butter comes to mind more quickly than some random word like water, or couch or something like that. So that's very easy to understand and neuroscientists, actually, in order to teach people how neurons in our brain fire after having learned something, they teach it to us by the phrase, if it fires together, it wires together. And we use that when we teach how learning occurs. By firing together, it means in the same moment, if neurons for bread and butter becoming activated, your brain learns that there's something about these that go together, and that's how we learn everything. We learn, you know, that mother and father are a unit, like bread and butter, but we also know certain experiences we have in the presence of something. When I see flowers, I feel happy, and flowers becomes associated flowers almost become synonymous with good, even though the words that we might use to capture goodness have nothing to do with flowers. So you know, not just words like beautiful or peace or joy, but if we use words like you know, angel, or satisfied, or whatever that have no semantic relationship to flowers, those words should become more easily accessible in the presence of flowers because our experience has made them repeatedly be associated. Unlike insects, when we think of an insect, we think yucky, I mean, unless you're a five-year-old boy, yes, I will put them aside for a moment. And say that, yes, that may happen. But even young boys, when they take our test, if it's flower or insect, they have learned that in our culture, flowers are good, and insects are bad. So all we've done is made a test that measures the strength of association between insects, and bad and good flowers and bad and good. Okay, that's what the test is. And now we can begin to go beyond the test by keeping the test logic identical. If I have you look at flowers on a computer screen and press a key - left key when you see flowers on the right key when you see insects - very easy for you to do that. Now I'm going to say okay, not just flowers and insects, but words are going to pop up on the screen words like love and peace and joy, good words, or bad words like devil and bomb and war and things like that. And your job is to use the same key to say flower or good words, and the same key, now a different but the same key when you identify an insect, as having appeared on the screen, or a bad word is having appeared on the screen. Now, if flower and good have truly become one in our minds, this should be a very easy task. Left key for flowers left key for good. Right key for insect right key for bad, right? That's easy. But now let's switch. This is the moment in the test when people groan because I'm saying to them left key for flower and left key for bad things, right key for insect and right key for good things. And they can't do it. By can't do it I mean, they can, but it takes them a whole lot longer to do this and they make many more mistakes when they do this. I show this bias, you show this bias. You know, even entomologists who study insects and love them, show it but to a lesser extent than we do. So they acquired the cultural thumbprint that says insects are not as good as flowers, but because they love insects and they work with them. They show a lower anti insect bias. Jen 14:51Fascinating. Dr. Mahzarin Banaji 14:52Okay, so now, the logic of the test should be very clear to people, and they will mostly agree in fact, everybody will agree that this is a decent measure of whether we like flowers or insects. And when the data come back and tell you, you have a strong preference for flowers over insects, people nod their head and say, "Yes, I do." There's no quarrel with the test. The quarrel with the test emerges when we replace insect and flower with black and white faces, Asian and white faces, fat and thin people, people who are Native Americans and European Americans. And sometimes when we even change the good and bad words, to be things like bad and good things like weapons and musical instruments or something like that. Is it easier for me to associate, you know, certain groups with bad things and certain groups with good things? And the startling result is that for people who have, and I would say, genuinely have no explicit bias, now, I can't say what your explicit bias is, because you may think that you think that you know, male is better than female, but you may not be willing to tell me, but I'll take myself, I know that explicitly, I do not believe that black is bad, and white is good. I know that for sure because it's me, and I can tell myself the truth about what I consciously think. And yet for people like me, who seem to have no explicit bias, this test throws us a curveball, because it demonstrates that people like me are not able to associate good with black as easily as we can associated with white. And when that happens, it's troubling to us. It's troubling because it doesn't feel like the test is telling us anything true about ourselves. I don't blame people who say what a stupid test is just telling me, you know, it's just all complete lies. I felt the same way when I first took the test. I thought, "What's wrong with this test?" Obviously, I'm the great Mahzarin I'm not biased, so if the test is telling me I am, something's wrong with the test. And you know, a few minutes later, I came to my senses and I realized it's not the test that's the problem. It's my head that's the problem. I have accumulated all this learning two things have gone together, it fired together, it wired together. Jen 17:22Okay. All right. Well, thank you for that. And I think there's a lot of different pieces to come up from that, that we're going to get to in due time as we go through the conversation, but I'm wondering if maybe we can start with “Where does this come from?” Because in preparation for this interview, you sent me an epic paper that you had written with one of your grad students, and the reference list alone was enough to make me weep when I saw it,

52mins

7 Mar 2021

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#33: Mahzarin Banaji

Cognitive Revolution

In this episode, I go in-depth with Mahzarin Banaji on her life story. Mahzarin started off just about as far away from life as a Harvard professor as you can imagine. And while she's a superstar of social psychology now, her introduction to the field was a chance encounter with a set of the five volume Handbook of Social Psychology, which she haggled down to a dollar per book at a random market in a train station. She's a truly fascinating human being, as well as a top-notch scientist.More info: codykommers.com/podcast

1hr 21mins

29 Sep 2020

Most Popular

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#33: Mahzarin Banaji

Cognitive Revolution

In this episode, I go in-depth with Mahzarin Banaji on her life story. Mahzarin started off just about as far away from life as a Harvard professor as you can imagine. And while she's a superstar of social psychology now, her introduction to the field was a chance encounter with a set of the five volume Handbook of Social Psychology, which she haggled down to a dollar per book at a random market in a train station. She's a truly fascinating human being, as well as a top-notch scientist.More info: codykommers.com/podcast

1hr 21mins

29 Sep 2020

Episode artwork

#33: Mahzarin Banaji

Cognitive Revolution

In this episode, I go in-depth with Mahzarin Banaji on her life story. Mahzarin started off just about as far away from life as a Harvard professor as you can imagine. And while she's a superstar of social psychology now, her introduction to the field was a chance encounter with a set of the five volume Handbook of Social Psychology, which she haggled down to a dollar per book at a random market in a train station. She's a truly fascinating human being, as well as a top-notch scientist.More info: codykommers.com/podcast

1hr 21mins

29 Sep 2020

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#16: Implicit Bias with Mahzarin Banaji

Opinion Science

Mahzarin Banaji is a professor of psychology at Harvard University. In the 90s, she and her colleagues pioneered the research in social psychology on implicit bias. They are perhaps best known for creating the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which purports to measure the preferences that people are unable or unwilling to say they have. Using this tool, psychologists have arrived at fascinating findings about bias, which have spawned a productive (and sometimes contentious) field of research. Together with Anthony Greenwald, Dr. Banaji wrote the popular book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People.I talked with Mahzarin about her early days studying psychology and what prompted her to study implicit bias. She also shared new research on how implicit biases have changed over time and what this means for how to achieve social progress.If you’re interested in the IAT—the test that researchers use to measure implicit bias—you can take one yourself at the official Project Implicit website.You can also check out one of Mahzarin’s recent projects: Outsmarting Human Minds. It’s a website devoted to bringing insights from social psychology to the public.Finally, I usually link to a bunch of primary articles that come up in the episode, but we covered a lot of ground in this one! However, we spent a lot of time on a recent paper led by Mahzarin’s graduate student, Tessa Charlesworth, on how implicit biases have changed over time (Charlesworth & Banaji, 2019). For an accessible summary of this research, check out their article in Harvard Business Review.For a transcript of this show, visit the episode's webpage: http://opinionsciencepodcast.com/episode/implicit-bias-with-mahzarin-banaji/ Learn more about Opinion Science at http://opinionsciencepodcast.com/ and follow @OpinionSciPod on Twitter.

1hr 14mins

27 Jul 2020

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Mahzarin Banaji on the human mind and subconscious biases

Luminary

Mahzarin Banaji is an award-winning experimental psychologist and professor at the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Her research explores the human mind, why and how we think and feel in certain ways, especially in a social context, and frameworks for better identifying and addressing implicit human biases. She is the co-creator of the implicit association test, which has been used over 40 million times. In this episode, we cover: How human beings think and the nature of subconscious human biases; Mahzarin’s book, Blindspot: hidden biases of good people, Project implicit, and her many other initiatives seeking to address implicit cognitive biases. We also discuss the impact of technology on psychology research and how social media may influence human biases. About and from Prof. Mahzarin Banaji: Website: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~banajiWebsite: https://psychology.fas.harvard.edu/people/mahzarin-r-banajiWikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahzarin_Banaji Research: Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People: http://blindspot.fas.harvard.edu/Book Project Implicit: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicitImplicit Association Test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABSeKU2qJoIUnconscious Bias: https://news.aamc.org/video/interview-unconscious-bias-mahzarin-banajiMind Bugs | Mahzarin R. Banaji | TEDxBari : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFEaCFFsM2UEvaluations of Talent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWYflxJ5Lcw – evaluation of talent Assorted Links: Book Recommendations:Why Teach: In Defense of a Real Education https://www.amazon.com/Why-Teach-Defense-Real-Education/dp/162040107XThese Truths: A History of the United States: https://www.amazon.com/These-Truths-History-United-States/dp/0393635244 Luminary Podcast: Visit us:  https://www.luminary.fmFollow us on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/luminaryfmLuminary on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/luminary-fm Music: Music used in this podcast: Simplex Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com): Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0 Chipper Doodle Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com): Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

57mins

12 Nov 2019

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[Unedited] Mahzarin Banaji with Krista Tippett

On Being with Krista Tippett

The science of implicit bias is one of the most promising fields for animating the human change that makes social change possible. The social psychologist Mahzarin Banaji is one of its primary architects. She understands the mind as a “difference-seeking machine” that helps us order and navigate the overwhelming complexity of reality. But this gift also creates blind spots and biases as we fill in what we don’t know with the limits of what we do know. This is science that takes our grappling with difference out of the realm of guilt and into the realm of transformative good. This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode “Mahzarin Banaji — The Mind Is a Difference-Seeking Machine.” Find more at onbeing.org.

1hr 32mins

23 Aug 2018

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Mahzarin Banaji — The Mind Is a Difference-Seeking Machine

On Being with Krista Tippett

An architect of the science of implicit bias. How our conscious minds are ahead of our less conscious minds. Letting go of “I’m a bad human being” — moving out of the realm of guilt, into the realm of good. How fast can we lose fear? The science of implicit bias is one of the most promising fields for animating the human change that makes social change possible. The social psychologist Mahzarin Banaji is one of its primary architects. She understands the mind as a “difference-seeking machine” that helps us order and navigate the overwhelming complexity of reality. But this gift also creates blind spots and biases as we fill in what we don’t know with the limits of what we do know. This is science that takes our grappling with difference out of the realm of guilt and into the realm of transformative good. Mahzarin Banaji is Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics in the department of psychology at Harvard University and a 2018 inductee into the National Academy of Sciences. She is the co-author of “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People” and co-founder of Project Implicit, an organization aimed at educating the public on implicit bias.

51mins

23 Aug 2018

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