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, with a perspective that is at once scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Jennifer Eberhardt offers us insights into the dilemma and a path forward.
Eberhardt works extensively as a consultant to law enforcement and as a psychologist at the forefront of this new field. 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.