Implicit Association Test (IAT)

The Implicit Association Test (IAT) looks at how strongly ideas such as "black people" or "gay people" are linked to judgments like "good" or "bad" or stereotypes. The main idea is that it's easier to answer when closely related things use the same answer key. Researchers from all across the world who study implicit social cognition have come together to form Project Implicit. Under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, they qualify as a charity.  

The purpose of the IAT is to uncover people's true feelings and thoughts even if they cannot verbalize them. It could be very enlightening if the IAT shows you have an implicit bias you didn't know about. You may believe, for instance, that men and women should have equal representation in the scientific community. Still, your unconscious associations may reveal that, like many other people, you connect science more strongly with males than women.

I took the "Race ('Black - White' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish faces of European and African origin. It indicates that most Americans have an automatic preference for white over black. "and the "Skin-tone ('Light Skin - Dark Skin' IAT)." The IAT requires the ability to recognize light and dark-skinned faces. It often reveals an automatic preference for light-skin relative to dark skin." After taking the IAT, I wondered how the assessment could measure any biases. Let's say the results were unexpected. I thought the results were inaccurate; I felt defensive and confused.

IAT is a valuable tool for assessing preferences. The challenge is understanding the results when the results are not aligned with one's values. For example, I have experienced prejudice from white and black people in various social settings. My first memory of being mistreated was in kindergarten when I went to a school where most of the students were white. This experience was the beginning of a litany of incidents of prejudice from white people, which far outweighed the experiences with blacks. So, I am confused by the results, "Your responses suggested a slight automatic preference for European Americans over African Americans.." The skin tone assessment aligned with my belief that I do not have skin tone preferences.



Take a Test. (n.d.). Project Implicit. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html 

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