Today, of course, the commander in chief of the U.S. military is black, and President Barack Obama gets the best seats in the house. A black president, however, causes great cognitive dissonance in some. But members of the “birther” movement have found a clever solution: Obama isn’t really president! Because he wasn’t really born in the USA!
A part of the answer may lie in what’s called implicit social cognition, which involves the deep-rooted assumptions we all carry around and even act on without realizing it. Harvard University psychologist Mahzarin Banaji is a leader in implicit social cognition research. She excavates the hidden beliefs people hold by measuring how fast they make value judgments when shown a rapid-fire succession of stimuli, such as photographs of faces.
The study found that white Europeans are more “American” than are nonwhite Americans in most minds.
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