Blind Spot – Part 2: Social Mindbugs

1 Oct

Last week I introduced you to social mindbugs. This week, I’m going to make the case a little more, because I know that it’s challenging to take in that what our unconscious mind believes can lead us in a direction/to a behaviour or conclusion that our conscious mind would abhor.

In case you missed last week’s post, Dr. Banaji and Dr. Greenbaum (the authors of Blind Spot) describe mindbugs as “Ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason and make decisions.” Social mindbugs are habits of thought that are about social groups.

The media is one of the powerful ways that mindbugs are created and maintained. How people are presented in the news provides us with some amazing examples of mindbugs. The challenge is that, because they are mindbugs, we don’t necessarily catch them or their problematic nature because they confirm what we believe (at an unconscious level or even at a conscious level).

A powerful example of this is coverage during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.
You may remember these photos because they did cause a stir at the time. These are a perfect example of social mindbugs at work. Read the caption and see what jumps out at you before you read on.


Both parties are in the same dire situation, but the Black people are referred to as looters while the white people are referred to as having found provisions.

Social mindbugs lead us to trust some people and not trust others, simply because of the social group they belong to (race, class, ability, education, looks, etc). In this case, that unconscious bias transferred into the language that was chosen by the journalist and the fact that the editorial team didn’t catch it.

They are called unconscious biases for a reason. But they still have tremendous impact.
Take some time in the next few days to consider what biases you may hold.

What social mindbugs are you carrying?

See more.

Copyright 2014 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker & Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion


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