Implicit bias may operate outside of awareness, hidden from those who have it, but the discrimination that it produces can be clearly visible to researchers, and almost certainly also clearly visible to those who are disadvantaged by it. (Banaji, Greenwald, 2013 pg. 209) Social perspectives allow assessment and analysis of human behavior and its relation and association to society directly. Social perspectives grant us the opportunity to identify the connections between the society we live in and the behavior of individuals amongst us. Social perspectives can include explanations from biological, evolutionary, and cultural references to expose justifications of subconscious behaviors. Awareness of these behaviors can bring conscious control of hidden judgments and biases. Banaji and Greenwald enlighten us with a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes that cause hidden biases known as “blind spots” in their book, Blindspot Hidden Biases of Good People.
We are, of course, biological organisms, and it is clear that our brains and bodies influence, and are influenced by, our social experiences. (Kassin, Fein, Markus, 2014 pg. 17) The biological social perspective adapts a biological explanation for the relationship between human biology and individuals social behavior. The text from Social Psychology explains further how the aspects of social neuroscience, behavioral genetics and hormones can directly correlate to and even account for an individual’s social behavior. (Kassin, Fein, Markus, 2014 pg. 17) Although this perspective undoubtedly contributes to social behavior, I do not believe it is the strongest factor to explain social acts.
The framework of evolutionary theory will be increasingly adopted as the foundation for a cumulative understanding of psychological science. As the unifying theory of the life sciences, evolution by natural and sexual selection offers an unparalleled ability to integrate currently disparate research areas (Wilson, 1998), creating a powerful framework for understanding the complex patterns of causality in psychological and behavioral phenomena. The evolutionary perspective will grow from its perceived status as a special interest area into an organizing principle that pervades every corner of every field, as well as serve as a bridge across levels of analysis. (Kruger, 2008, pg. 4) Evolution has moved forward with advancing the understanding of principles from several sciences including human social behavior. It is an expanding field with several theories and corroborated evidence, but I do not believe this to be the most direct social perspective to correspond to social behavior either.
Whether we want them to or not, the attitudes of the culture at large infiltrate us. (Banaji, Greenwald, 2013 pg. 63) I consider the cultural social perspective to be the most direct correlation to social behavior. The course text Social Psychology defines culture as a system of enduring meanings, beliefs, values, assumptions, institutions, and practices shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next. (Kassin, Fein, Markus, 2014 pg. 18) I think repeated observed and learned behavior is a stronger determinant of social behavior than genetics, evolution, or the effects they can have on an individual’s social behaviors. Culture is continual and constant behaviors surrounding an individual and cultural exposure is most certainly almost impossible to avoid. The social learning theory, created by Albert Bandura in 1977, expands upon classical and operant conditioning from behaviorist learning theories to create and explain behaviors. The social learning theory is at the root of many cultural and psychological questions including the influence of nature vs. nurture on human behavior. The social learning theory combines cognitive learning theory, stating learning is influenced by psychological factors, and behavioral learning theory, stating learning is based on responses to environmental stimuli. Bandura combined the theories and identified the requirements needed for learning, including observation (environmental), retention (cognitive), reproduction (cognitive), and motivation (both). (Centola, 2018) I believe culture is what creates our environment and surrounds individuals during development, which shapes people into who they are, this includes who they are socially and their social behaviors. I believe the cultural effects of our environment override all genetic and evolutionary ties that may effect who we are as social beings. The cycle of abuse is a prime example of this. Those who are abused often times become an abuser themselves or continue to engage in abusive relationships, believing this is directly coordinated to their environment and the culture they were exposed to. Some would like to believe they are not a product of their environment but our minds have been shaped by the culture around as. In fact, they have been invaded by it. (Banaji, Greenwald, 2013 pg. 86)
The book, Blindspot Hidden Biases of Good People, makes an exemplary effort at demonstrating how culture can infiltrate social behavior, even without our knowledge. In the modern world, culture can have bearing on our well-being, our prosperity, our productivity, and perhaps even our survival. (Banaji, Greenwald, 2013 pg. 114) The book begins by explaining mindbugs, ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions and shades of truth, presenting unidentifiable lies. (Banaji, Greenwald, 2013 pg. 14) This makes honest self-reporting impossible, and not only invites, but encourages error. Often times past experiences, primarily though our environment and surrounding culture, can form subconscious biases we are not aware of, but shape everyday behaviors as well as how we socially interact. This is how we create biases, stereotypes, discrimination, privileges, and produce false facts, memories, and present wrong information. The text provides several examples of distorted thoughts and assumptions, such as wrongful convictions based on eyewitness testimony, racism, and lies, all based on subconscious factors. These subconscious and unknown factors, which hold hidden biases and perceptions towards social interactions and beliefs are what Banaji and Greenwald refer to as Blind spots. The book aims to identify and make individuals aware of cultural attitudes towards social groups such as age, sex, race, religion, gender, and so forth to minimize hidden biases and gain conscious control of our perceptions. Bringing awareness to our blind spots can assist with aligning our behaviors with our intentions and bring fairness and justice to our subconscious distortion. This is referred to as “outsmarting the machine, our brain.”
As a black man in todays society I know all too well about biases, stereotypes, racism, and how conscious and subconscious blind spots can influence and effect daily interactions and judgments. Not only am I a black man, but a single father to biracial children, which also produces several others effects regarding all of our daily interactions. As the book discussed, white vs. black police shootings have caused an increase in racial tension, not only stemming from but continuing to create greater and more extensive stereotypes. The book so clearly identifies harmful stereotypes that are persistent, and that can routinely damage judgement and the actions, and grasps at the demands that we seek innovative ways to look into the blind spot. The book Blindspot, pinpoints a variety of automatic stereotypes, their nature and their consequences as well as their effects, how they exert influence and the costs they impose not only on the targets of the stereotyped perceptions, but about the self-defeating effects of stereotypes on the very people who hold them. The text allows us to focus on the most serious consequences of stereotypes, their role in causing violence, imprisonment, even death and their role in cutting off opportunities that make for a full and productive life. (Banaji, Greenwald, 2013 pg. 82-83)
We too would like to put such stereotypes out of our minds, and hope that by ignoring them we can urge them to just go away. (Banaji, Greenwald, 2013 pg. 83) As the book recommended I took the race category test with the Implicit Association Test, and I self-reported having a slighter greater preference to “dark-skinned” people, however the test concluded I favored “light-skinned” people over “dark-skinned” people. The text discussed how one can accurately identify one’s true self, when faced with this situation. The power of ideas cuts across age, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, and nationality to bring minds together in the search for something larger than the limitations these categories typically afford. To each other we can simply say that we are fully aware of our good fortune in having found a kindred spirit in the other. It is not easy to imagine an alternative intellectual existence that could have been superior. (Banaji, Greenwald, 2013 pg. 175)