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Mahzarin Banaji to Give Thomas Lecture, "Ordinary Prejudice and the Law," Apr. 18

Harvard Professor Mahzarin Banaji will give the 2004-05 James A. Thomas Lecture, titled "Ordinary Prejudice and the Law: A Behavioral Realism Approach," on Monday, April 18, 2005, at 4:30 p.m., in Room 127. The talk is free and open to the public.

Banaji's talk will describe some of the unconscious psychological processes that underlie discriminatory behavior. Banaji taught psychology at Yale for fifteen years and is currently the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Banaji studies human thinking and feeling as it unfolds in social context, focusing primarily on mental systems that operate in implicit or unconscious mode.

Banaji writes the following description of the talk she will give at YLS: "How deep are the bounds on human thinking and feeling and how do they shape social judgment? To answer this question, I have chosen to investigate systems that operate in implicit or unconscious mode, with a focus on implicit assessments of self, other humans, and social groups. In this talk I will show evidence for the existence of implicit attitudes and knowledge, and what we have learned about their nature. In particular, I will focus on the disparity between conscious and nonconscious social cognition as revealed by techniques that measure behavior and brain activity, with participants who are college students, drop-in visitors to, and young children. I will also provide a brief demonstration of the biases in all of us (using the audience and myself as subjects). From such demonstrations and research, I will raise questions about what the mind sciences can say about the early mental threats to just and fair treatment."