Blind Reading Response

The chapter I enjoyed the most from the set of readings we had was the “Hidden Cost of Stereotypes”. In my leadership and the social sciences class, we have learned a lot about cognitive dissonance which was presented in the chapter blindspot. A lot of times our minds are presented with two differing opinions and our brain does not like this so we either find a way to conform to one opinion over the other or we come up with justifiers why each opinion might work in different scenarios. The example of the characteristics of Jews in the two studies fits under cognitive dissonance. In 1933, it wasn’t as frowned upon to be anti-Semitic because World War II hadn’t occurred yet and people were not as globally educated as they are today. Therefore, the participants in the study had no difficulty in choosing characteristics that were demeaning and stereotypical. Their brains weren’t conflicted because they didn’t know then that those were just stereotypes, they thought that those were real characteristics of Jews. However, in the 2001 study when the same characteristics were shown to participants, the responses were completely different. This isn’t because those stereotypes about Jews have gone away, because they definitely haven’t and they are displayed in many pop culture things like characters on TV shows, movies and songs. Everyone recognizes these stereotypes in our culture. However, it is very frowned upon to be anti-semitic or to display any anti-semitic sentiments. This causes conflict in a person’s brain, even if they don’t themselves believe in the stereotypes, they are aware they exist and can’t completely ignore them. This is why many of the participants used the logic that “yes, these stereotypes exist and some uneducated people believe in them, however, I am more educated and I know these are only stereotypes”.

I found myself in a struggle of cognitive dissonance during my implicit bias test. Even though I do not find myself to be biased or display any overt stereotypes on anyone, during this test I found myself trying harder than usual to go against any known stereotypes. During the clicking portion I made sure to take my time to get everything right and not fall into the test’s trap. I found myself accidentally falling into the trap anyway though. I thought the test was hard because even if we don’t overtly display bias or stereotypes in a demeaning way, we still have such slight implicit biases.