• Well Structured
  • Bold
  • Concrete Examples


Stanford psychology professor Jennifer Eberhardt, a MacArthur Fellow, shows how stereotypes arise and how they work in the background to shape people’s perceptions and actions. In crisp language, using research studies as well as history lessons, she demonstrates that bias against African-Americans is pervasive and longstanding. Luckily for those seeking a more just world, she also illustrates ways that people can journey through the challenge of bigotry to an appreciation for diversity. Knowledge is the first step. Students, social scientists, businesspeople and those seeking greater mutual understanding will benefit from her insights.

Once your brain creates categories to sort impressions, it’s hard to change. Racial categories influence your perceptions.

Eberhardt says human brains evolved with a “same-race advantage,” a built-in bias that, she asserts, often leads to the misidentification of criminals if they’re from a different race than their victims.

She cites the tale of black teens snatching purses in Oakland’s Chinatown as an analogy. The teens knew middle-aged Chinese women thought they all looked alike and could not identify them. Black men stealing from Asian women led the women to generalize that all black men are dangerous. Humans rely on such categories to manage information. Over time, Eberhardt notes, categories fill with sensory perceptions, memories and knowledge that informs feelings and actions. Confirmation bias drives people to look for information that supports their beliefs. They don’t see facts that contradict what they think or that challenge their sense of self. She finds that this reinforces stereotypes and leads to “implicit bias.”

About the Author

Jennifer L. Eberhardt teaches psychology at Stanford University and is a recipient of a 2014 MacArthur “genius” grant. She is the co-director of Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions (SPARQ), a Stanford Center initiative bringing experts together to address social issues. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers.

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