- "Implicit biases are pervasive. They appear as statistically "large" effects that are often shown by majorities of samples of Americans. Over 80% of web respondents show implicit negativity toward the elderly compared to the young; 75-80% of self-identified Whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial White relative to Black.
- People are often unaware of their implicit biases. Ordinary people, including the researchers who direct this project, are found to harbor negative associations in relation to various social groups (i.e., implicit biases) even while honestly (the researchers believe) reporting that they regard themselves as lacking these biases.
- Implicit biases predict behavior. From simple acts of friendliness and inclusion to more consequential acts such as the evaluation of work quality, those who are higher in implicit bias have been shown to display greater discrimination. The published scientific evidence is rapidly accumulating. Over 200 published scientific investigations have made use of one or another version of the IAT.
- People differ in levels of implicit bias. Implicit biases vary from person to person - for example as a function of the person's group memberships, the dominance of a person's membership group in society, consciously held attitudes, and the level of bias existing in the immediate environment. This last observation makes clear that implicit attitudes are modified by experience."
An Unintentional Blindness: The (Distorted) Reality of Implicit Bias
Do you see other people as they see themselves? One controversial web study is asserting that you probably don't - especially if they're in a conflicting social category from yourself.
Project Implicit is an online social experiment that has been running since 1998 and assumes that people don't openly express their social biases. To gauge any unspoken implicit biases toward one's own social group, the Implicit Association Test measures interference between conflicting categories. Project Implicit started with measurements of racial bias, but has expanded its work to examine other forms of bias - and even some silly explorations, like the "Are you a Human or an Alien?" test.
Project Implicit, very similar to another web-based social experiment that you know and love and *COUGH COUGH* FOLLOW ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK *COUGH COUGH* uses the data it collects to publish some fascinating research. Some of the more intriguing findings from their website:
As much fascinating research is, Project Implicit isn't without its critics. The blog Mixing Memory indicts the project in their post Experimental Philosophy and Implicit Moral Judgements, stating that, "...there is no real evidence that [the IAT] measures attitudes, much less prejudices. In fact, it's not at all clear what it measures, though the fact that its psychometric properties are pretty well defined at least implies that it measures something."
What do you think? What is the IAT measuring - and what does it say about human nature? Sound off in our comments!
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