When seeing shouldn’t be believing: Illusions at work

A common expression tells us that “seeing is believing”. But sometimes there are illusions at work, whether we’re looking at checkerboards, human faces, or resumes. Luckily, there are ways we can debunk them.


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Dion, K. K. (1972). Physical attractiveness and evaluation of children’s transgressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24(2), 207-213.

Goldin, C., & Rouse, C. (2000). Orchestrating impartiality: The impact of” blind” auditions on female musicians. American Economic Review, 90(4), 715-741.

Levin, D. T., & Banaji, M. R. (2006). Distortions in the perceived lightness of faces: the role of race categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135(4), 501.

Tsay, C. J., & Banaji, M. R. (2011). Naturals and strivers: Preferences and beliefs about sources of achievement. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(2), 460-465.


“When seeing shouldn’t be believing: Illusions at work” was created and developed by Olivia Kang, Moshe Poliak, Kirsten Morehouse, Evan Younger, and Mahzarin Banaji. Research and Development Assistants for this episode include Moshe Poliak and Megan Burns. Support for Outsmarting Human Minds comes from PwC, Johnson & Johnson, and Harvard University.

Narration by Olivia Kang, featuring Professor Daniel Levin (Vanderbilt University)

Animation and Editing by Evan Younger

Artwork by Evan Younger and Olivia Kang

Music by Peter McIsaac Music, Origami Pigeon, Immersive Music, and Taizo Audio via Premium Beat.