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Shortcuts to stereotypes

A useful account of unconscious bias lacks sustained solutions

By Kate Womersley   July 2020

Behavioural scientist Pragya Agarwal Photo: Handout

Attractive people are less likely to commit crimes. Regional accents are not to be trusted. Hurricanes with male names are riskier than those with female ones. In Sway, behavioural scientist Pragya Agarwal enumerates the variety of our unconscious biases, and the ways in which they shape individual behaviour and public life.

The book catalogues different types of bias—racism, sexism, ageism—as well as the mind’s cognitive shortcuts that sustain them. These include present bias (giving greater importance to the now than the  future), confirmation bias…

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