It would be hard to find a scientific field that has enjoyed as much mainstream success in the 21st century as social psychology. Social psychologists dominate the TED Talk stage, rack up impressive contracts as consultants to schools and companies, and write book after bestselling book. Their most viral ideas promise to solve some of society’s most pressing problems, often in slickly counterintuitive ways.
Amy Cuddy (61 million TED Talk views) argued that by adopting brief, expansive poses—think Wonder Woman with her hands on her hips—women could feel more powerful in the workplace, shrinking stubbornly persistent gender gaps. Angela Duckworth (23 million views) introduced “grit,” a new psychological scale for measuring passion and stick-to-it-iveness, which has been marketed, in part, as a tool to redress educational inequality. Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji’s implicit association test, or IAT, came to utterly dominate the diversity-training industry, promising to pull back the curtain on our minds and reveal their unconscious biases against disfavored groups.
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