What Does the IAT Tell Us?

NYT2008111411260447CIn our second lecture on Prejudice, we discussed the Implicit Association Test (IAT). In fact, I asked you to take a low-tech version of the test as part of that lecture. And you can take multiple versions of the test on-line at the Project Implicit website.

I promised in that lecture more opportunity to discuss the IAT. Well, here we are. What do you make of the demonstration we did as part of that lecture? Do you buy the IAT as a measure of implicit bias? Why or why not? If not, what do you think the IAT is actually measuring? What other questions do you want to see answers to in trying to come to conclusions about the IAT?


This entry was posted in Attitudes, Chapter 13, Racial Bias, Research Methods, Social Cognition, Stereotypes. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What Does the IAT Tell Us?

  1. I really think the IAT is a great test because it does not allow people to lie about bias and is a clear example of implicit bias. It shows implicit bias because even why I try to fight against the result it still occurs. It would be interesting to see this applied in classroom settings where people are talking about race in America to show that there are biases ingrained in us. More awareness of these biases can lead to less ignorance surrounding issues of white privilege.

    • Holden says:

      I also felt like because I knew what the results would end up being that I tried really hard and focused in to prevent the inevitable. The fact that I want to prevent it from coming true, makes my implicit bias real, even before I take the test. Or else I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did to make that conscious effort.

    • Lucy B. Ren says:

      I think this test is also really great because it shows that having bias is inevitable, no matter how much we try and fight it. With this test, we can become more aware of our biases and work to correct ourselves in everyday life.

    • I agree, this awareness can increase our fight against it. I also took the mental health bias test and was surprised to find that even then I have an implicit bias, this is ironic as I consider myself part of the in-group in this condition. I guess it is like the Steele and Aronson study in way, being in this setting made me aware of these stereotypes and I acted on them.

  2. Zihan Chai says:

    I feel the IAT is a nice demonstration of the kind of biases most of us have. Just like the Eberhardt et al. study, IAT demonstrates that (1) most of us do have stereotypical biases even when we deny it, and (2) the implicit biases can be powerful. If just hearing a Black name primes us to think about the negative aspect of life, the subsequent self-fulling prophecy must be all too easy to occur. It also provides strong counter-argument to many of those who start a sentence with “I am not racist/homophobia/sexist, but…” People can assert that they are totally not biased, but IAT offers clear evidence that the vast majority of us have implicit biases on one issue or another.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I think the fact that many IAT test takers are able to accurately predict their test results casts considerable doubt on the belief that the IAT measures people’s implicit prejudices.

    I personally tend to believe that the IAT measures cultural association or stereotype. To test such hypothesis, one needs to compare the IAT results of people from similar socioeconomic or geographical backgrounds. If such results converge, the hypothesis receives more credit. One might also conceive another method to measure cultural association or stereotype, and compare the results obtained by this “another method” with that obtained from the IAT. If those two sets of results are similar, the hypothesis is even further corroborated.

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