Are You Biased?

3 04 2010

There is something interesting that I learned about in my psychology undergrad and that I stumbled upon again recently that can give you an interesting look at some of your unconscious prejudices: Implicit Association Tests (IATs).

In these tests you respond as quickly as you can to some simple associations and the test then looks at your response time and determines whether or not you show a preference for one category or another.  These tests are commonly used to study racial and gender prejudices.  Instead of going into detail about the test, I’ll let you look it up on your own.  Check Wikipedia if you want.

I will encourage you to try taking the tests, however.  There is one for race and one for gender.  They are available on the website UnderstandingPrejudice.org.  They give a warning on the site that I will paraphrase here: the test often reveals an implicit bias even if consciously you believe you have none.  If you’re not okay with the possibility that the test says you have a bias, don’t take the test.

My own results showed little or no automatic preference for either Whites or Blacks and a moderate association of Male with Career and Female with Family compared to Female with Career and Male with Family.  As for what the results actually mean in the real world, there is some debate about whether the test actually measures bias or just familiarity.  Either way it’s interesting stuff and is well supported by research.

Share your results with me if you feel comfortable doing so.

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6 responses

3 04 2010
Randal

So, according to the tests I have a slight preference for black people over white people and slightly associate women with careers and men with family. This was kind of surprising because if you were to ask me to self-report my bias, I would say the opposite as my results. My theory as to how I got the results I did is that because I know the basic ideas behind this test, I was about to unconsciously game them/overcompensate.

3 04 2010
Randal

that should be “able to game them”, not “about to game them”

3 04 2010
Peter Leavitt

I considered that possibility for myself, as well.

5 04 2010
Tasha

I’m nervous Peter! What if I take it and I am prejudiced against black people and then my own children and husband will shun me? meh. I’ll take it anyways!

6 04 2010
Flora

I wasn’t all that surprised when I got no preference for black or white people but was kind of, but not really surprised by the moderate association between male and career and female and family. Definitely interesting. Granted my results might be affected by me taking it at midnight and being quite tired.

14 04 2010
Barbara

I found the results interesting. It would appear, according to this is that I have a moderate preference for African American over European American. I also have a moderate association of male with career and female with family compared to the other way. This does not surprise me, though.

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