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Mahzarin R. Banaji  

Psychologist at Harvard University Known for Popularizing the Concept of Implicit Bias

Mahzarin Rustum Banaji studies the disparities between conscious expressions of attitudes and beliefs and less conscious, implicit representations of the same. She has primarily studied social group attitudes and beliefs in adults and children, relying on behavioral measures, neuroimaging, and computational approaches to the study of large language corpora. Her work has led many organizations to call for greater consistency between individual and institutional statements of values and behavior. In addition to research and university teaching, Banaji’s current efforts are focused on applying evidence from the science of social cognition to improving organizational practices. She is co-author of "Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People" and is the founder of an educational project as well as an online course "Outsmarting Implicit Bias," offered through Harvard University.

Banaji taught at Yale where she was Reuben Post Halleck Professor of Psychology. Since then, she has been Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Banaji served as the first Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and as the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Chair in Human Dynamics at the Santa Fe Institute. She served as President of APS, Chair of the Department of Psychology and as Senior Advisor to the Dean of the FAS on Faculty Development for over 10 years at Harvard University.

Banaji received Yale’s Lex Hixon Prize for Teaching Excellence, named Harvard College Professor for excellence in undergraduate teaching, elected Distinguished Member of the honor society Psi Chi, received the Constellation Award from SPSP for her broad influence on students and colleagues, and APS’s Mentor Award. Banaji has been elected fellow of the Society for Experimental Psychologists and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was named Herbert A. Simon Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, inducted as Fellow of the British Academy, elected to the National Academy of Sciences, elected to the American Philosophical Society.

Banaji has been awarded a James McKeen Cattell Award, the Gordon Allport Prize for Intergroup Relations, the Morton Deutsch Award for Social Justice, the Kurt Lewin Award for outstanding contributions to the integration of psychological research and social action, the Carol and Ed Diener Award for Outstanding Contributions to Social Psychology, SESP’s Award for Scientific Impact and SPSP’s Campbell Award for Distinguished Scholarly Achievement in Social Psychology, the Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award from the University of California at Merced, and a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association. Banaji has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Rockefeller Foundation.

In 2016 Banaji received the William James Fellow Award for “a lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology” and the Cattell Award for “applications of research to society” from the Association for Psychological Science. In 2017 Banaji received the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution and in 2022 the National Academy of Sciences Atkinson Prize “to honor significant advances in the psychological and cognitive sciences with important implications for formal and systematic theory in these fields”. Her contributions have been further recognized by honorary degrees from Barnard College (Medal of Distinction), Smith College, Colgate University, the University of Helsinki, Carnegie-Mellon University, and Yale University.


Mahzarin R. Banaji
Mahzarin R. Banaji (Boston, United States) Professor of Psychology & Social Ethics, Harvard University
Everyone is biased: Harvard professor’s work reveals we barely know our own minds
Mahzarin R. Banaji was starting out as an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University in the late 1980s, at a time when women professors were scarce enough that administrators eager to offer a class on the psychology of gender turned to her. Banaji had no expertise in the area; her research focused on memory. But she said she would do it, and she quickly found herself inhabiting the overlapping worlds of gender studies and psychology.

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