Mahzarin Banaji

Mahzarin Banaji
Harvard University | Harvard · Department of Psychology

Ohio State University, Ph.D.

About

247
Publications
179,060
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Introduction
Mahzarin Banaji studies unconscious thinking and feeling as they unfold in social context, relying on multiple methods including cognitive/affective behavioral measures and neuroimaging (fMRI). She explores the implications of her work for questions of individual responsibility and social justice in democratic societies. Her current interests focus on the origins of social cognition and applications of implicit cognition to improve organizational practices.
Additional affiliations
August 2002 - present
Harvard University
Position
  • Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics

Publications

Publications (247)
Article
Using more than 7.1 million implicit and explicit attitude tests drawn from U.S. participants to the Project Implicit website, we examined long-term trends across 14 years (2007–2020). Despite tumultuous sociopolitical events, trends from 2017 to 2020 persisted largely as forecasted from past data (2007–2016). Since 2007, all explicit attitudes dec...
Article
Using word embeddings from 850 billion words in English-language Google Books, we provide an extensive analysis of historical change and stability in social group representations (stereotypes) across a long timeframe (from 1800 to 1999), for a large number of social group targets (Black, White, Asian, Irish, Hispanic, Native American, Man, Woman, O...
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The statistical regularities in language corpora encode well-known social biases into word embeddings. Here, we focus on gender to provide a comprehensive analysis of group-based biases in widely-used static English word embeddings trained on internet corpora (GloVe 2014, fastText 2017). Using the Single-Category Word Embedding Association Test, we...
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We examine the state-of-the-art multimodal "visual semantic" model CLIP ("Contrastive Language Image Pretraining") for the rule of hypodescent, or one-drop rule, whereby multiracial people are more likely to be assigned a racial or ethnic label corresponding to a minority or disadvantaged racial or ethnic group than to the equivalent majority or ad...
Article
Cesario argues that experiments cannot illuminate real group disparities because they leave out factors that operate in ordinary life. But what Cesario calls flaws are, in fact, the point of the experimental method. Of all the topics in science, we have to wonder why racial discrimination would be uniquely unsuited for investigating with experiment...
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“A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies. The son is rushed to the ER. The attending surgeon looks at the boy and says, ‘I can't operate on this boy. He's my son!’ How can this be?” Fifty years after the riddle first received public attention, one likely answer proves elusive: the surgeon is the boy's mother. Seven studies (N =...
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Four studies involving 2552 White American participants were conducted to investigate bias based on the race-based phenotype of hair texture. Specifically, we probed the existence and magnitude of bias in favor of Eurocentric (straight) over Afrocentric (curly) hair and its specificity in predicting responses to a legal decision involving the pheno...
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Systemic racism is a scientifically tractable phenomenon, urgent for cognitive scientists to address. This tutorial reviews the built-in systems that undermine life opportunities and outcomes by racial category, with a focus on challenges to Black Americans. From American colonial history, explicit practices and policies reinforced disadvantage acr...
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In this chapter, we review implicit person memory: studies using implicit measures to examine how evaluations of and beliefs about individual human targets are acquired and how they shift in the face of new information. In doing so we distinguish between papers that have (a) used implicit person memory as a case study of relatively domain-general p...
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Over the past decade, implicit attitudes about sexual orientation, race, and age have revealed both change toward neutrality (sexuality and race attitudes) and stability (age attitudes). But how consistently have such patterns of change and stability unfolded across U.S. society? Are the trends widespread, with most demographic groups changing or r...
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We provide an overview of research on the implicit social cognition of self and identity. We limit our coverage to aspects of the self that emerge when (1) viewed in the context of social group memberships and (2) measured via thoughts and feelings that are not consciously controllable or within awareness. We begin with research paradigms that link...
Article
Gender stereotypes are widely shared “collective representations” that link gender groups (e.g., male/female) with roles or attributes (e.g., career/family, science/arts). Such collective stereotypes, especially implicit stereotypes, are assumed to be so deeply embedded in society that they are resistant to change. Yet over the past several decades...
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Over the past three decades, implicit social cognition research has flourished and has produced myriad novel insights into the automatic operation of social attitudes (evaluations) and stereotypes (beliefs). In this chapter, we provide an overview of what we regard to be significant and settled issues as well as the most pressing open questions tha...
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Stereotypes are associations between social groups and semantic attributes that are widely shared within societies. The spoken and written language of a society affords a unique way to measure the magnitude and prevalence of these widely shared collective representations. Here, we used word embeddings to systematically quantify gender stereotypes i...
Chapter
Social groups are ubiquitous. They reflect the need of humans to belong, to identify as members of collectives for fundamental social and economic benefits, as well as for survival. The many positive aspects of belonging are off-set by intergroup conflict that results from group membership. We focus on psychological analyses of intergroup thoughts,...
Article
We investigated implicit associations between social categories female or male and the attributes sex or science. In six experiments, Implicit Association Tests (IATs) showed female + sex/male + science associations. The bias was observed (a) in both men and women; (b) in participants who reported sexual attraction to both females and males (greate...
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Several dual-process theories of evaluative learning posit two distinct implicit (or automatic) and explicit (or controlled) evaluative learning processes. As such, one may like a person explicitly but simultaneously dislike them implicitly. Dissociations between direct measures (e.g., Likert scales), reflecting explicit evaluations, and indirect m...
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Women are underrepresented in careers where success is perceived to depend on high levels of intellectual ability (e.g., brilliance, genius), including those in science and technology. This phenomenon may be due in part to a gender-brilliance stereotype that portrays men as more brilliant than women. Here, we offer the first investigation of whethe...
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This meta-analysis evaluated theoretical predictions from balanced identity theory (BIT) and evaluated the validity of zero points of Implicit Association Test (IAT) and self-report measures used to test these predictions. Twenty-one researchers contributed individual subject data from 36 experiments (total N = 12,773) that used both explicit and i...
Article
Success in the physical and social worlds often requires knowledge of population size. However, many populations cannot be observed in their entirety, making direct assessment of their size difficult, if not impossible. Nevertheless, an unobservable population size can be inferred from observable samples. We measured people’s ability to make such i...
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Implicit evaluations (attitudes) are often described as resistant to change, especially when they were initially formed in a seemingly associative manner, such as via repeated evaluative pairings (REP), and new learning is created via propositional material, such as evaluative statements (ES). The present research (total N = 2,124) tested the respo...
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From the earliest ages tested, children and adults show similar overall magnitudes of implicit attitudes towards various social groups. However, such consistency in attitude magnitude may obscure meaningful age‐related change in the ways that children (vs. adults) acquire implicit attitudes. This experiment investigated children's implicit attitude...
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The landscape of gender in education and the workforce has shifted over the past decades: women have made gains in representation, equitable pay, and recognition through awards, grants, and publications. Despite overall change, differences persist in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This Viewpoints article on...
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We propose a new, complementary approach to interpretability, in which machines are not considered as experts whose role it is to suggest what should be done and why, but rather as advisers. The objective of these models is to communicate to a human decision-maker not what to decide but how to decide. In this way, we propose that machine learning p...
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We propose a new, complementary approach to interpretability, in which machines are not considered as experts whose role it is to suggest what should be done and why, but rather as advisers. The objective of these models is to communicate to a human decision-maker not what to decide but how to decide. In this way, we propose that machine learning p...
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Success in the physical and social worlds often requires knowledge of population size. However, many populations cannot be observed in their entirety, making direct assessment of their size difficult, if not impossible. Nevertheless, an unobservable population size can be inferred from observable samples. We measured people’s ability to make such i...
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Full-text available
Humans possess a tendency to rapidly and consistently make character evaluations from mere facial appearance. Recent work shows that this tendency emerges surprisingly early: children as young as 3-years-old provide adult-like assessments of others on character attributes such as "nice," "strong," and "smart" based only on subtle variations in targ...
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Modern democracies must contend with the challenge of providing opportunity and fair treatment to a diverse citizenry. Discoveries from the mind sciences have revealed, however, that these values are compromised in a variety of ways. In this chapter, we focus on the biases in decisions about individuals that emanate from information about their soc...
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In the present report we provide a brief summary of the relationship between implicit and explicit measures of social cognition based on the meta-analytic database analyzed in more detail with respect to the relationship between measures of social cognition and measures of intergroup behavior by Kurdi et al. (2018). In the present analysis, a stati...
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Evaluating stimuli along a good–bad dimension is a fundamental computation performed by the human mind. In recent decades, research has documented dissociations and associations between explicit (i.e., self-reported) and implicit (i.e., indirectly measured) forms of evaluations. However, it is unclear whether such dissociations arise from relativel...
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When tested immediately, evaluative statements (ES; verbal information about upcoming categories and their positive/negative attributes) surprisingly shift implicit (IAT) attitudes more effectively than repeated evaluative pairings (REP; actual pairing of category members with positive/negative attributes). The present project (total N 5,317) explo...
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Intergroup attitudes (evaluations) are generalized valence attributions to social groups (e.g., white–bad/Asian–good), whereas intergroup beliefs (stereotypes) are specific trait attributions to social groups (e.g., white–dumb/Asian–smart). When explicit (self-report) measures are used, attitudes toward and beliefs about the same social group are o...
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Using 4.4 million tests of implicit and explicit attitudes measured continuously from an Internet population of U.S. respondents over 13 years, we conducted the first comparative analysis using time-series models to examine patterns of long-term change in six social-group attitudes: sexual orientation, race, skin tone, age, disability, and body wei...
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Using data from 217 research reports (N = 36,071, compared to 3,471 and 5,433 in previous meta-analyses), this meta-analysis investigated the conceptual and methodological conditions under which Implicit Association Tests (IATs) measuring attitudes, stereotypes, and identity correlate with criterion measures of intergroup behavior. We found signifi...
Article
When two individuals from different social groups exhibit identical behavior, egalitarian codes of conduct call for equal judgments of both individuals. However, this moral imperative is at odds with the statistical imperative to consider priors based on group membership. Insofar as these priors differ, Bayesian rationality calls for unequal judgme...
Article
Given that globalization has brought different sociocultural groups together on an unprecedented scale, understanding the neurobiology underlying intergroup social behavior has never been more urgent. Social and cognitive scientists are increasingly using noninvasive brain-stimulation techniques (NBS) to explore the neural mechanisms underlying imp...
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Using data from 217 research reports (N = 36,071, compared to 3,471 and 5,433 in previous meta-analyses), this meta-analysis investigated the conceptual and methodological conditions under which Implicit Association Tests (IATs) measuring attitudes, stereotypes, and identity correlate with criterion measures of intergroup behavior. We found signifi...
Article
In the 1970s, memory researchers converged on interesting phenomena observed in Korsakoff-syndrome amnesic patients. These patients’ performances on difficult tasks were reliably improved by practice sessions from which they could recall nothing. Related findings of indirect memory effects in college students triggered wide attention to phenomena t...
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From a statistical standpoint, judgements about an individual are more accurate if base rates about the individual’s social group are taken into account 1–4 . But from a moral standpoint, using these base rates is considered unfair and can even be illegal 5–9 . Thus, the imperative to be statistically accurate is directly at odds with the imperativ...
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Modern democracies must contend with the challenge of providing opportunity and fair treatment to a diverse citizenry. Discoveries from the mind sciences have revealed, however, that these values are compromised in a variety of ways. In this chapter, we focus on the biases in decisions about individuals that emanate from information about their soc...
Preprint
Full-text available
About 70% of more than half a million Implicit Association Tests completed by citizens of 34 countries revealed expected implicit stereotypes associating science with males more than with females. We discovered that nation-level implicit stereotypes predicted nation-level sex differences in 8th-grade science and mathematics achievement. Self-report...
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Three experiments (total N = 1,058) were conducted to investigate the relationship between memory accuracy and subjective confidence using thematic lists constructed on the basis of spontaneous accessibility, that is, the frequency with which items are spontaneously generated as category members. After memorizing lists of words and performing a dis...
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Six experiments, involving a total of 6,492 participants, were conducted to investigate the relative effectiveness of repeated evaluative pairings (REP; exposure to category members paired with pleasant or unpleasant images), evaluative statements (ES; verbally signaling upcoming pairings without actual exposure), and their combination (ES + REP) i...
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The Implicit Association Test (IAT) requires responding to category contrasts such as young vs. old, male vs. female, and pleasant vs. unpleasant. In introducing the IAT, A. G. Greenwald, D. E. McGhee, and J. L. K. Schwartz (1998) proposed that IAT measures reflect mental structures involving the nominal features of the IAT’s categories (e.g., age...
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Most theories in social and political psychology stress self-interest, intergroup conflict, ethnocentrism, homophily, ingroup bias, outgroup antipathy, dominance, and resistance. System justification theory is influenced by these perspectives—including social identity and social dominance theories—but it departs from them in several respects. Speci...
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The present research examined contextual variations in automatic attitudes. Using two measures of automatic attitudes, five experiments demonstrated that evaluative responses differ qualitatively as perceivers focus on different aspects of a target’s social group membership (e.g., race or gender). Contextual variations in automatic attitudes were o...
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In reporting Implicit Association Test (IAT) results, researchers have most often used scoring conventions described in the first publication of the IAT (A. G. Greenwald, D. E. McGhee, & J. L. K. Schwartz, 1998). Demonstration IATs available on the Internet have produced large data sets that were used here to evaluate alternative scoring procedures...
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Differences between traditional laboratory research and Internet-based research require review of basic issues of research methodology. These differences have implications for research ethics (e.g., absence of researcher, potential exposure of confidential data and/or identity to a third-party, guaranteed debriefing) and security (e.g., confidentia...
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Respondents at an Internet website completed over 600,000 Implicit Association Tests (IATs) between October 1998 and April 2000 to measure attitudes toward and stereotypes of social groups (www.yale.edu/implicit). Their responses demonstrated, on average, implicit preference for white over black and young over old, and stereotypic associations link...
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This initial research synthesis suggests that the relationship between implicit and explicit attitudes is determined by (at least) two factors – self-presentation and elaboration. A new formulation of the nature of the relationship between implicit and explicit attitudes must be devised to handle these observations. The independent evaluations view...
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This theoretical integration of social psychology’s main cognitive and affective constructs was shaped by three influences: (a) recent widespread interest in automatic and implicit cognition, (b) development of the Implicit Association Test (IAT: Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998), and (c) social psychology's consistency theories of the 1950s – e...
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We examined the role of group membership (being female or male), implicit identity with social groups (me=male/female), and math-gender stereotypes (math=male) in predicting implicit math attitudes (math=good) and math identity (math=me). In addition, we investigated the relationship between implicit and explicit preferences and SAT performance. Co...
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Theory is constrained by the quality and versatility of measurement tools. As such, the development of techniques for measurement is critical to the successful development of theory. This paper presents a technique – the Go/No-go Association Task (GNAT) – that joins a family of existing techniques for measuring implicit social cognition generally,...
Article
Does the mere size of a social group influence how it is perceived? Study 1 showed that on self-report measures, smaller and larger groups are rated to be equal in warmth/goodness, but smaller groups are rated to be higher in status/competence. Self-reports indicated that the latter result stems from the small group size of the socioeconomic elite...
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14 PI Demo site IAT study data from 2002 to current
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Overview=======The GNAT (pronounced like the bug) is a flexible technique designed to measure implicit social cognition. Conceptually similar to other implicit measures like the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, JPSP, 1998), the GNAT assesses automatic associations between concept (e.g., gender) and attribute (e.g., eva...
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Many methods for reducing implicit prejudice have been identified, but little is known about their relative effectiveness. We held a research contest to experimentally compare interventions for reducing the expression of implicit racial prejudice. Teams submitted seventeen interventions that were tested an average of 3.70 times each in four studies...
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in press, JPSP. Abstract: Greenwald, Poehlman, Uhlmann, and Banaji (2009; GPUB) reported an average predictive validity correlation of r =.236 for Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures involving Black–White racial attitudes and stereotypes. Oswald, Mitchell, Blanton, Jaccard, and Tetlock (2013; OMBJT) reported a lower aggregate figure for correl...
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We introduce the Open Affective Standardized Image Set (OASIS), an open-access online stimulus set containing 900 color images depicting a broad spectrum of themes, including humans, animals, objects, and scenes, along with normative ratings on two affective dimensions-valence (i.e., the degree of positive or negative affective response that the im...
Article
We argue that Firestone & Scholl (F&S) provide worthwhile recommendations but that their critique of research by Levin and Banaji (2006) is unfounded. In addition, we argue that F&S apply unjustified level of skepticism about top-down effects relative to other broad hypotheses about the sources of perceptual intelligence.
Article
The development course of implicit and explicit gender attitudes between the ages of 5 and adulthood is investigated. Findings demonstrate that implicit and explicit own-gender preferences emerge early in both boys and girls, but implicit own-gender preferences are stronger in young girls than boys. In addition, female participants' attitudes remai...
Article
Humans rapidly and automatically use facial appearance to attribute personality traits (“trustworthy,” “competent”). To what extent is this face-to-trait attribution learned gradually across development versus early in childhood? Here, we demonstrate that child-adult concordance occurs even when faces should minimize agreement: natural (not compute...
Article
Greenwald, Poehlman, Uhlmann, and Banaji (2009; GPUB hereafter) reported an average predictive validity correlation of ̄r = .236 for Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures involving Black-White racial attitudes and stereotypes. Oswald, Mitchell, Blanton, Jaccard, and Tetlock (2013; OMBJT) reported a lower aggregate figure for correlations involvi...
Article
Determining which dimensions of social classification are culturally significant is a developmental challenge. Some suggest this is accomplished by differentially privileging intrinsic visual cues over nonintrinsic cues (Atran, 19905. Atran , S. (1990). Cognitive foundations of natural history: Towards an anthropology of science . New York , NY :...
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Children and adults differentiate statements of religious belief from statements of fact and opinion, but the basis of that differentiation remains unclear. Across three experiments, adults and 8–10-year-old children heard statements of factual, opinion-based, and religious belief. Adults and children judged that statements of factual belief reveal...
Article
Human adults attribute character traits to faces readily and with high consensus. In two experiments investigating the development of face-to-trait inference, adults and children ages 3 through 10 attributed trustworthiness, dominance, and competence to pairs of faces. In Experiment 1, the attributions of 3- to 4-year-olds converged with those of a...
Article
Beliefs are invisible contents of the mind, yet young children appear able to reason about beliefs in their minds and those of others. In three experiments, the authors explored the previously unanswered question of the manner and extent to which young children assess types of beliefs. In Experiment 1, 6- to 9-year-old children preferred peers who...
Article
Many methods for reducing implicit prejudice have been identified, but little is known about their relative effectiveness. We held a research contest to experimentally compare interventions for reducing the expression of implicit racial prejudice. Teams submitted seventeen interventions that were tested an average of 3.70 times each in four studies...
Article
Reports the retraction of "The evolution of intergroup bias: Perceptions and attitudes in rhesus macaques" by Neha Mahajan, Margaret A. Martinez, Natashya L. Gutierrez, Gil Diesendruck, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Laurie R. Santos (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2011[Mar], Vol 100[3], 387-405). The retraction is at the request of the auth...
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Evaluating others is a fundamental feature of human social interaction-we like those who help more than those who hinder. In the present research, we examined social evaluation of those who not only intentionally performed good and bad actions but also those to whom good things have happened (the lucky) and those to whom bad things have happened (t...
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Existing stereotypes about Black Americans may influence perceptions of intent during financial negotiations. In this study, we explored whether the influence of race on economic decisions extends to choices that are costly to the decision maker. We investigated whether racial group membership contributes to differential likelihood of rejection of...
Article
Individuals who qualify equally for membership in more than one racial group are not judged as belonging equally to both of their parent groups, but instead are seen as belonging more to their lower status parent group. Why? The present paper begins to establish the role of individual differences and social context in hypodescent, the process of as...
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Although prior research suggests that fusiform gyrus represents the sex and race of faces, it remains unclear whether fusiform face area (FFA)-the portion of fusiform gyrus that is functionally-defined by its preferential response to faces-contains such representations. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate whether FFA rep...
Article
The beliefs people hold about the social and physical world are central to self-definition and social interaction. The current research analyzes reasoning about three kinds of beliefs: those that concern matters of fact (e.g., dinosaurs are extinct), preference (e.g., green is the prettiest color), and ideology (e.g., there is only one God). The do...
Article
An individual has a mind; a group does not. Yet humans routinely endow groups with mental states irreducible to any of their members (e.g., "scientists hope to understand every aspect of nature"). But are these mental states categorically similar to those we attribute to individuals? In two fMRI experiments, we tested this question against a set of...
Article
Long traditions in the social sciences have emphasized the gradual internalization of intergroup attitudes and the putatively more basic tendency to prefer the groups to which one belongs. In four experiments (N = 883) spanning two cultures and two status groups within one of those cultures, we obtained new evidence that implicit intergroup attitud...