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Implicit Association Tests

According to Project Implicit Research, the Implicit Association Test (IAT), “measures the strength of associations between concepts and evaluations or stereotypes to reveal an individual’s hidden or subconscious biases.” The IAT has been the subject of clinical, developmental and cognitive psychology since its introduction in 1998 and has recently been implemented into implicit bias training. This training is most commonly utilized in workplaces where employees regularly contact vulnerable people, such as healthcare, law enforcement and education. 


The current version of the IAT administers a computer-based test, where the participant is asked to match a positive or negative with a picture of either an African American or a European American child. The first round of questions asks the participant to click “E” for any image of an African American child or a negative word. Conversely, the key “I” is used for any notion of a European American child or a positive word. 


As the test continues, the match between the child’s race and positive or negative connotation switches. The test answers become solely based on intuitive perceptions, not memorization or muscle memory. The test is only accurate if the participant responds speedily. Otherwise, the “implicit” nature of the test is removed. At the end of the test, the participant receives results on their measured implicit bias, which ranges from a strong to slight automatic preference or little to no automatic preference for either race. 


The shocking results of the IAT show that, of all web respondents, 70% had a slight, moderate or strong automatic preference for white over Black people. Only 12% of respondents had a slight, medium or strong automatic preference for Black over white people. These results mean that even Black respondents automatically preferred white people over their own race. IAT results provide intriguing feedback, which is used to bolster implicit bias training throughout the United States.



Sources


“Implicit Bias: Is Everyone Racist?” BBC News, BBC, 5 June 2017, www.bbc.com/news/magazine-40124781


“Race IAT: Implicit Association Test.” Race IAT, implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/user/agg/blindspot/indexrk.htm


“Test Your Implicit Bias - Implicit Association Test (IAT).” Loyola Marymount University, resources.lmu.edu/dei/initiativesprograms/implicitbiasinitiative/whatisimplicitbias/testyourimplicitbias-implicitassociationtestiat/.

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