Project Implicit | Are You Racis People ?

Are you racially biased? Harvard University has been trying to find out with their Racism test. The four-minute test throws different races at you and has you identify the images as "bad" or "good" as quickly as you can. The idea is that your first reaction is most likely your honest reaction.

You can try the test out for yourself, after clicking on the "Demonstration" button and then clicking the "Race IAT" button.

Project Implicit is a joint investigation between Harvard, the University of Washington and the University of Virginia into our subconscious biases. The project began 11 years ago. Many would say that they are not biased against Latinos, those with darker skin, obese people or women, but researchers say that we can harbor subconscious biases that we are not even aware of.

Ask the average person whether they have a bias toward male executives over female executives and the answer might be no.

That's what I said when Anthony Greenwald of Project Implicit asked whether I thought of men and women differently when it came to leadership in business, math and science. He quickly informed me that I was probably like a majority of Americans who incorrectly think they don't have a bias toward male leadership.

"Eighty percent of Americans, black and white and Asian, have associations that associate women less than men with leadership in business, science and math. You may be aware of some biases you have but less aware of others," Greenwald, a principal investigator for Project Implicit and professor of psychology at the University of Washington, told Black Voices in an interview.According to the Project Implicit web site:

Psychologists understand that people may not say what's on their minds either because they are unwilling or because they are unable to do so. For example, if asked "How much do you smoke?" a smoker who smokes 4 packs a day may purposely report smoking only 2 packs a day, because they are embarrassed to admit the correct number. Or the smoker may simply not answer the question, regarding it as a private matter.... But it is also possible that a smoker who smokes 4 packs a day may report smoking only 2 packs because they honestly believe they only smoke about 2 packs a day. (Unknowingly giving an incorrect answer is sometimes called self-deception; this illustrates being unable to give the desired answer). The unwilling-unable distinction is like the difference between purposely hiding something from others and unconsciously hiding something from yourself. The Implicit Association Test makes it possible to penetrate both of these types of hiding. The IAT measures implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report.

You can take several different tests at the Project Implicit site that can examine your biases for things, such as age, gender and weight.

"The main value of the test is that it allows people to see an inventory of things in our heads that are out of sight," said Greenwald. "A lot of people are aware of some biases and quite comfy with them--anti-semitic, anti-black and overweight--but some of the greatest interest is [in] ones they are not aware of."

Americans love having scientific proof for stuff we already know Topics such as whether eating too much junk food can cause you to gain weight, how driving 65 mph on the freeway while texting isn't safe, and why global warning threatens our future, have all been the subject of intense study.

After hundreds of years of racial and gender discrimination, people are unable to admit that those biases still exist. We live in a media-saturated environment, where we are constantly bombarded with images that enforce and even prop up our biases. When we look at issues like how African Americans are more likely to receive the death sentence for similar crimes as whites, the disparity between sentences for crack and cocaine, and even health disparities when it comes to cancer or HIV deaths, how can we not say that our biases have some part to play in those situations?

We all have biases whether we are willing to admit it or not. The goal in life, however, should be to recognize our biases when making decisions and vanquish them accordingly.

Some think the implicit biases research field has too many issues to draw the conclusions that it draws.

I wouldn't use the test in a court of law but it might awaken some people to their biases. Let's judge people by their actions. If you say that you value diversity, then what is the makeup of your company?

It would be great if we didn't need these tests to help people face their biases. No one likes to think he or she is a bad person, but common sense should prevail. I don't need a test to show me that there are biases against women when it comes to leadership in business, math and science. All I have to do is look at a list of Fortune 500 CEOs.

But maybe the test can help some.

"It's the first step in deciding you may need to do something on your own to change," said Greenwald. "People might think they are part of solution and not the problem, but we are all part of the problem."

source: bvblackspin.com

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