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The Person You Mean to Be

How Good People Fight Bias

By Dolly Chugh
15-minute read
Audio available
The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh

The Person You Mean to Be (2018) offers an accessible guide to the complex world of unconscious biases. Unconscious biases are the assumptions and associations we all have about people who are of a different gender, race, sexual orientation or class than we are. Author Dolly Chugh explains how these unconscious biases work and what we can do to overcome them.

  • Students of human behavior and gender studies
  • Anyone who thinks they aren’t prejudiced
  • People who want to be more open-minded

Dr. Dolly Chugh is a psychologist with a PhD in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University. Since earning her degree, she’s worked as a social psychologist at New York University and is an expert on the study of unconscious biases.

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The Person You Mean to Be

How Good People Fight Bias

By Dolly Chugh
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh
Synopsis

The Person You Mean to Be (2018) offers an accessible guide to the complex world of unconscious biases. Unconscious biases are the assumptions and associations we all have about people who are of a different gender, race, sexual orientation or class than we are. Author Dolly Chugh explains how these unconscious biases work and what we can do to overcome them.

Key idea 1 of 9

Having a growth mindset means being willing to learn, but prejudices are hard to overcome.

When you’re deciding whether or not to do something, do you prefer to stick with the familiar or are you open to exploring new things?

For documentary filmmaker Perrin Chiles, new things offer an exciting challenge. In the early 2000s, when Chiles was preparing for his next film, he chose the subject of autism, even though he had little first-hand knowledge of the subject. This attitude is a perfect example of what’s known as growth mindset, as it shows a willingness to learn new things. Having a growth mindset can lead to amazing things, and yet, many people have the opposite attitude, known as a fixed mindset.

For example, someone has a fixed mindset if they believe they’re terrible at drawing and would never take an art class. They believe people are either good or bad at something, and no class will ever change that. Someone with growth mindset, however, may admit that their drawing skills are weak now, but acknowledge that with practice and effort their stick figure can one day become a realistic portrait. In other words, those with a growth mentality know that they can improve, and take advantage of opportunities to do so.

For Chiles, his film on autism was an opportunity to learn about people who are different from him. And as ideas coming from a growth mindset often do, it led to great things. In this case, a wonderful documentary called Autism: The Musical. Released in 2007, the film touched millions of people and made significant strides in opening people’s eyes to the realities of autism.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as open-minded as Chiles. Often, fixed mindsets can lead to stubborn prejudices that prevent people from exploring new things. This narrow-mindedness is especially true of Hollywood. If an extraterrestrial being were to make assumptions about human beings based strictly on Hollywood movies, they would likely think that nearly everyone is a straight, white male with no physical disabilities.

In an overview of the highest-grossing films in recent years, only 27 percent of the speaking roles were female. As for the top films of 2015, 48 of them didn’t contain a single black actor in a speaking role. What’s more, only 4 percent of Hollywood’s new movies are directed by women.

The following blinks explore why built-in prejudices like those found in Hollywood are so difficult to overcome.

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