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5th Annual Cowan Lecture: “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People” presented by Mahzarin Banaji, Ph.D.

November 22, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Please save the date to join us for our 5th Annual Ann Rankin Cowan Lecture on Friday, November 22nd at 3:00 pm in the FedEx Global Center’s Nelson Mandela Auditorium (301 Pittsboro Street).

This year’s speaker in Mahzarin R. Banaji, Ph.D., a Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, the first Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, a George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Chair in Human Dynamics at the Santa Fe Institute, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is renowned for her research on the unconscious nature of assessments of self and humans that reflect feelings and knowledge (often unintended) about their social group memberships that underlie the us/them distinction. She is the founder of Outsmarting Human Minds, co-author of the book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, and was recently awarded the U.S. Congress Golden Goose Award, which recognizes federally-funded research with tremendous human and economic benefits that results in significant societal impact.

Most human beings take seriously the idea that their behavior ought to be consistent with their deeply held values and principles. The last 50 years of research in psychology has challenged this possibility. During this lecture, Dr. Banaji will speak to the question of how well-intentioned people behave in ways that deviate from their own values and principles – and how this state of affairs compromises decisions in the social context: decisions about a person’s worth and competence as it plays out in public settings, whether it be schools, the workplace, or the street.

This lecture is participatory, involving educational and even entertaining, hands-on exercises. It is geared towards providing insights into how our minds work, often in a surprising and even perplexing manner. Dr. Banaji will demonstrate how subtle cues influence how we perceive others and act towards them, because we automatically rely on information about the groups people belong to. The purpose of this lecture is to reveal mental blindspots that can compromise our professional and personal decisions if they are left unattended and to begin a conversation about what might be done to allow us to lead the examined life we aspire to.

Please join us on Friday, November 22 at 3:00 PM in FedEx for the lecture. A catered reception will follow the lecture. This event is free and open to the public, thanks to the generous sponsorship from the Cowan Family Foundation.


November 22, 2019
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Department of Psychology and Neuroscience


FedEx Center, Nelson Mandela Auditorium
301 Pittsboro Street
Chapel HIll, NC 27599 United States
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