Psychologist to Deliver Lecture to Yale Frosh Titled "Mind Bugs"

About 1,300 freshmen in the Yale Class of 2002 will attend their first academic lecture exploring discoveries about twists and quirks of the human mind on Sunday, Aug. 30, 7:15-8:15 p.m. Psychologist Mahzarin R. Banaji will present the Ralph H. Thomas Leadership Lecture, titled “Mind Bugs,” in Woolsey Hall, College and Grove streets. Reporters are invited to attend.

“Discoveries about the human mind in this first century of psychology have revealed its endless marvels. Yet, as with any complex machine, the mind can produce faulty thoughts and feelings,” says Banaji, an associate professor and award-winning teacher at Yale. “I will focus on these ‘mind bugs’ by demonstrating a variety of visual illusions, lapses in memory, limits to attention, fallibility in reasoning, and misjudgments of people.”

An expert in social cognition, especially variables that influence memory of social information, Banaji also is an authority on unconscious processes involving prejudice and stereotyping. For example, she discovered that people unconsciously assign fame more easily to male names than to equally familiar female names, thus revealing subtle gender stereotyping.

“We are using a new tool to measure implicit attitudes and beliefs,” she said. “Toward the end of the talk, I will demonstrate in audience members the existence of race prejudice that is uncontrollable. We already have evidence of such prejudice in people who disavow conscious prejudice, which raises new questions about the disconnectedness of conscious and unconscious beliefs and attitudes and the power of unconscious prejudice to influence judgment.”

After the talk, the new Yale students will break up into smaller groups to discuss the discovery of implicit prejudice and its implications. For more information about the lecture and her research, please contact Banaji at (203) 432-4547.

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