Mahzarin is a professor of Social Psychology at Harvard University and an adviser on our Science of Sharing project. Her work has relevance to many spheres of activity at the Exploratorium (visitor research, teacher training, programs, and more). She studies human thinking and feeling as it unfolds in social contexts. Her focus is primarily on mental systems that operate in implicit or unconscious mode. In particular, she is interested in the unconscious nature of assessments of self and other humans that reflect feelings and knowledge (often unintended) about their social group membership (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, gender, class) that underlie the us/them distinction. From such study of attitudes and beliefs of adults and children, she questions the social consequences of unconscious thought and feeling.
Mahzarin's work on unintended “unconscious” associations that can lead to preferential or discriminatory perceptions has had widespread impact beyond academia; some of her work has been used to raise individual awareness of the potential for unconscious bias. She recently published Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People. She has also written for the Harvard Business Review on business ethics and management issues.