The Implicit Association Test as a B.S. Repellent

FF_raves_gates1_f[1] The Gates arrest controversy brought with it a storm of comments from conservatives as to how racism is dead and that we can now move forward with the meritocricy that has been true for a long time in this race-blind country. Yep, you betcha. The only problem with this assertion? That’s right, it is not true in any way, shape, or form.

The Implicit Association Test viewable at the linked Harvard website lays to rest the conservative “race-blind” myth.   The test reveals that racism is alive and well even though many who genuinely believe that they are free of racism, in truth, really are not.  Including, yours truly, the author of this post.  The IAT is one of those pesky reminders that we have not grown much past our Jim Crowe roots.  My test results revealed that I have a strong preference for European whites over African Americans.

Take the test to find out the truth about yourself.



Filed under Diversity, Life Lessons, racism, Wingnuts!

41 responses to “The Implicit Association Test as a B.S. Repellent

  1. This well researched methodology rules out the common “familiarity” excuse as being the reason for these results. See this study.

    You can take the boy or girl out of the trailor park, but doing the opposite is quite a bit more difficult.

  2. Sorry for the confusion on the link.

    Do these things:
    1) when you get “oops error occured” – click on “Project Implicit home” – click on “demonstration”, click on “go to demonstration tests”, click on “I wish to proceed” >> Click on RACE IAT tab, Click here to begin, click continue, Answer “Demo” – Data – click on “OK”, Click, “I am ready to begin tab

    Sounds worse than it is. I will try to clean this up tomorrow. It will be worth your efforts. You will be doing a service for research.

  3. They have a similar test on our perceptions of lesbians and gays. I will take it when I am less traumatized by the current results… Man, I hate it when it is demonstrated that I fall way short of the values, I think I hold…

  4. Well, it could be worse, I could be posting on the retard gun blog site and feeling proud that I was banned from here.

    All things are a matter of reference, I guess…

  5. prairiepond

    Iggy–The mark of a good man is that he is upset when the test results point out what could be improved.

    The mark of a jerk is that he/she doesnt care what could stand improvement. They think they are perfect and always right just as they are.

    I guess you can gather from this post, I think you are a mighty good man! I’ll try to take the test later. Today is our busy day at the newspaper.

  6. I took the last last night and this morning I sent an email to Iggy before coming to the blog. Here is a copy and paste of what I sent him:

    I AM DISMAYED at my score!

    Your Result
    Your data suggest a strong automatic preference for European American compared to African American.

    And here is how I felt about that:

    Well. I never. WOW! OK, so what can I learn from this, how can I fix what I see as a deficit? Just wow! I’m not even sure I can admit this failing publicly!”

    So do I get to be a mighty good man too? Not much comfort! I’m still terribly disappointed and apprehensive about taking more of the tests there. I’m not sure how much truth I can handle in one sitting. 😦

  7. prairiepond

    Linda, with the powers invested in me as the Queen of Downer Creek, I dub thee “A mighty good woman”!

    Go forth and do good! 🙂

  8. I don’t have to take the test to know that it’s true 😦

    • Hi spamwarrior! Thanks for your input.

      Your comment indicates that’s because you live it and know it all too well. If this doesn’t apply to you (as I suspect), it does apply to someone and I should say it –I’m sorry. Apologies sound shallow and unless I do something to improve my deficiency an apology is shallow! I can’t even imagine how those who don’t give a rat’s a** must be as fellow travelers in this world. But I recognize there are too many who aren’t even sorry. I can’t change them, but I can change me. I’m ashamed.

  9. tosmarttobegop

    Do not be dismayed, we are hardwired for it and have been so since the beginning.
    “Different means danger” deep inside we all have one thing that is the standard.
    “I am normal and the right way” we judge ourselves as the norm and everyone else that are not like us as different. Even when two tribes are just the same to a disinterested viewer they still make themselves different. Flags, banners and dress to make themselves different.

    Likewise we are then draw to those that are like us and so “Alike is safe” we share a common experiences and similar values and thoughts. But where this leaves us it is logic and reason that take us passed both these basic instincts. We notice that those different have common experiences and values that are shared.
    We reject the ideas of those different have less value then ourselves. we fight the natural instinct for our own betterment.

    Racism is natural, sexism is natural, homophobic is natural we are hardwired against anyone who is not like us. But we step beyond it through our logic and reason.

    • I think TSTBG has it correctly. I think identifying those in our tribes vs. those not, may be hard wired for us.

      I took the religion one, too. I have a strong preference for Christians, too. My excuse is – such is part of my culture.

      My comfort is that my prefrontal cortex can over-ride what my gut (and lower parts of my brain)tells me is true. The more thinking I do, the easier it becomes, hopefully. . .

  10. lilacluvr

    I took the test of Obama v Reagan and it said I had a slight preference for Reagan – WTF??

    If there is anyone I could not stand, it was Reagan. Maybe that was my learning curve on how to take these tests?

    I’m hoping – please God, don’t let me be a secret St. Ronnie Reagan lover….

  11. lilacluvr

    can I change that from ‘hoping’ to ‘fervently praying’?

  12. See! Now I’ve gone beyond apprehensive to downright scared to take more tests!

    You don’t suppose it’s that African American vs European American bias, do you?

    • lilacluvr

      I was somewhat taken back myself about that result – even downright scared…

      It was the second test I took, so maybe I didn’t have the the process down quite right yet – do you think?

      Please say yes, because otherwise, I will have to give some serious thought about my unconscious thoughts and why they are there….

      Maybe you’re right – it is an old bias that I was hardwired with??

      Please, God, anybody than Reagan!

  13. tosmarttobegop

    Here is a personal experience, working in the jail I thought that the jail population was made up of more Blacks then any other race. I mentioned this one day to a jailer I had worked with but he had moved on into an administrative role in Corrections. He told me that was not true, that Whites made up more of the jail population then other races. He then invited me to his office where he laid out the statistics.

    The numbers did show that more Whites were in our jail than Blacks, Latinos or Asians. He then explained the why of my misperception. It was basically my post from above, they we natural notice those that are different from us. Kind of like a field of pogo dots, is it black dots on a sheet of white or a sheet of white with black dot on it? which way do you perceive it? I was noticing the black inmates more then I was noticing the white inmates.

    One thing about our system does ring true, the prison population is disproportionately minorities.
    He had the statistic too, whites may end up going to jail more but it is the minorities that end up going to prison more.

  14. lilacluvr

    And perhaps more than a race issue…Maybe it’s more of an economic class?

    If you have the monetary means for an excellent lawyer, then you’re more apt to not land in prison?

    Same goes for social and political connections – the more connected a person is, the less chance of them seeing the inside of a prison?

    • tosmarttobegop

      This is very true, take O. J. the first mistake the L.A.P.D. did was to treat it as if it was O. J. Simpson long shore man dock worker instead of O.J. Simpson millionaire, famous football player and famous actor.
      They took shortcut, did not follow established procedures and detailed paperwork.
      He had the money to hire the best lawyers and the case was shredded. If not for the money the case would have flown through the court system and O.J. would have never seen the light of day.

      I witnessed a case here where the only evidence was a palm print that the owner of the house verified the defendant’s story that he had came to the window and asked to use the phone because his car had broke down. She could not identify the defendant as the person she later saw in her kitchen that night when there was a burglary. he was convicted and it took two years before he finally was able to be cleared of the charge.

      A couple of years later, the son of a wealthy couple was charged with kidnapping and rape.
      The evidence was several eye witnesses who saw the man driving with the victim toward the area where the rape occurred at the time. His DNA was found under her finger nails and he had deep scratches where she said she had scratched him. Sperm from him, her blood on his clothes and in his car.
      He came to court in a new suit everyday and had a battery of lawyers, the jury found him not guilty.
      “Money talks and B.S. walks”

  15. tosmarttobegop

    The first time I watch the full video of this my heart broke, such young and innocent children and to see their view of life and how they actually saw themselves. In these cuts there is one girl that hurt me like a knife through my heart. The girl had always when ever asked about bad doll, ugly doll she would point to the Black doll. Then when asked which doll look more like her, she shoved the Black doll across the table.
    The look on her face said so much and I so realized the effect racism and culture really had.
    When such an innocent who had not lived long enough to have become bad saw herself like she did.

    • wicked

      One gift I asked for–begged for–whether it was birthday or Christmas, was a black baby doll. For those who remember Tiny Tears, the doll I received was much like that, although not nearly as old. I named her Angel, and she was one of my favorites.

      I have no clue why I had to have a black doll. I just did. And no, I haven’t taken the test yet. Not sure I want to. LOL

  16. lilacluvr

    I have a 3 & 1/2 yr old granddaughter and she shows me every day how we all should be.

    Whenever we go shopping, this little precious girl says hi to everyone – white, black, old, young, handicapped, hairy or bald – it doesn’t matter.

    I find it interesting that most people will respond in the same friendly manner but I had one woman who asked me in a stern voice – ‘do I know you’?

    When I told her no and my granddaughter is just friendly to everyone, this woman says ‘she’ll learn soon enough who not to talk to’ –

    BTW – this woman was white.

    This woman never came out and said what she meant by that comment but I didn’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling from her.

    And, yes, I do know I need to teach my granddaughter there are certain perverted behaviors to watch out for and to not speak to people with those behaviors – but those people come in all colors and sizes – don’t they?

    • We will never know but it’s possible that woman may know about the ‘people not to talk to’ from an up close and perhaps not pleasant experience.

      It’s hard to walk the thin line of warning a child appropriately without taking away their loving innocence or scaring them unduly. I don’t pretend to have the answer of how that’s best done!

      • lilacluvr

        You bring up a good point, fnord. I never thought about that possible reason for the woman to be off-standish with me.

        Thanks for mentioning it.

        See, I learned something today because in my little world and past experiences, I’ve never had to deal with anything like that – so maybe I am biased as to things like that happen to someone else and somewhere ‘over there’?

      • Not that I am always successful, but I try hard to remember that each of us is probably fighting our own personal battles — some current, some past — as we go through our days. We keep many of them as well hidden as possible (sometimes even from ourselves).

    • wicked

      I’ve mentioned before that my oldest granddaughter’s school is what I call “a rainbow.” While waiting in front of the building for school to let out one afternoon, I noticed I, a white woman, was quite out-numbered by those with darker skin, whether Black, Asian or Hispanic. It didn’t bother me, just gave me pause for a moment. An “Aha Moment”, of sorts. 🙂

      Her best friend during the first half of the year was the little girl who lived next door to me. My granddaughter mentioned only once that the girl’s skin was darker. She doesn’t understand race, even at the age of 7, which is a miracle, because I’ve heard things from her step-dad’s lips that I wouldn’t repeat. Her younger-by-one-year cousin mentioned one day that the girl was Black, but then said the girl wasn’t really black, but brown. That g-daughter lives next door to a mixed-race family, so she’d heard the word “Black” mentioned by her step-dad. I simply told all three g-kids that we all look different on the outside and that’s what makes us special, but we’re the same inside. We bleed red blood, and cry when we hurt.

      I try, but I admit that I probably have that “White European thing” going on, big time. Only it’s not so much about AAs as it is some others. 😦

  17. What would one use to google information about a teacher (seems like from Kansas?) who back in the 50s or 60s taught her students how it felt to be treated differently. In recent times I think a special was done by NOVA on PBS and these students were brought back to the school as adults, they talked about the lessons learned as children.

    This teacher went on to develop a training program she took to schools, businesses…

    Wish I could remember more, but if I could remember more I could probably also find it using “the” google. 😦

    Anyone remember enough to help me search?

  18. Back when I started in psychology, in the early, early, 1970’s, B.F. Skinner was still the prevailing theoretical force. He contended, pretty forcefully, that if psychology was going to live on as a scientific discipline, it was imperative that it focus on observable phenomenon – i.e., behavior. He admonished we should not look inside the “black box” – i.e. the mind/thinking – because what happened there could not be reliably measured. The cognitive revolution started in the late 70’s and grew exponentially with the popularization of the home computer.

    I am very impressed with the ways cognitive scientists have found for measuring what happens in the “black box”. The IAT being but one example of that.

    Sometimes I wish that I had started my learning journey later, but then again, I likely would not have been smart enough to keep up…

  19. Bad Biker

    “My test results revealed that I have a strong preference for European whites over African Americans.”

    Of course you do, Iggy. Humans are social animals – we have a preference for our own kind it is the natural order of nature.

    Wild dogs don’t run with wolves. Grizzlies and black bears don’t share a picnic basket. The eagle doesn’t fly with the dove.

    In my view, a preference for one’s own kind does not make you a racist. I would imagine that you do not hang out with gun nuts, anti-choice folks and Assembly of God fundies. For me, I do not hang out with New York Giant or Colorado Avalanche fans.

    In my opinion, the test is a test of being color blind, which is largely impossible. It is what it is.

    What is important, again in my view, is how we react to different people and different races. A little, bitty portion of our brains may reflect a preference for one’s own kind, but our intellect tells us that we are all equal.

    What separates us from the Con/Republicans is that we recognize the difference, while the Cons go with the little bitty portion.

    • lilacluvr

      I like to think the biggest difference between the Con/Republicans and myself is that I can see beyond the mantra of me-me-me and how what I do and say affects the entire pond.

      The splash of hatred and racism can cause some mighty big ripples with long-lasting effects.

    • Good points, Bad Biker.

  20. jammer5

    What I find interesting is the 911 caller stated she never mentioned the word black either during her call, or subsequent talks with police. But the arresting officer claims she told him two black men were breaking into the house, and, in fact, wrote such in his report. If it’s true she never said black, then it means the arresting officer is lying. That opens up profiling big time.

  21. lilacluvr

    But I thought the 911 recording revealed that she did not use the word ‘black’.

    But she did note that there were suitcases with them so if two men were on a porch with suitcases, wouldn’t you think that maybe – just maybe – one of them might be the homeowner?

    But couldn’t this all have been confirmed by a call back to the police station?

    From the officer call into dispatch – the arresting officer was saying the suspect was uncooperating and to ‘keep the cars coming’. Just how many cars were needed to get one uncooperative guy?

    But, what has always bothered me from the first about this case is – this is a well-known black professor. And is Cambridge that big of a town that the police officers (especially a veteran of the force) would not know who Gates is?

    It’s not like he was Bubba from the wrong side of the tracks…

    • After asking to keep the cars coming, the officer requested campus police also.

    • tosmarttobegop

      The presents of the suitcases is a maybe clue but not always the answer. As a criminal goes through the system at times it really is like a criminal school. One thing they learn is to try to look as normal in their actions as possible. If you were driving down the street and saw someone trying to open a front door and at their feet is a couple of suitcases. What would you think?

      I know a guy who while setting in his car in a Dillons parking lot waiting for his wife. He saw a van pull up to a new pick-up parking beside it. On the side of the van was a magnetic sign that said Phil’s transmission repair. Ron watched as the guy got out and opened the side door, took out a transmission jack and rolled it under the truck. The guy then pulled a tool box out and slid it under the truck too. Soon the guy rolled out from under the truck a transmission and over to the side of the van. He swung out a hoist and lifted the transmission into the van and then put back the jack and tool box then drove off.

      Before his wife came out, Ron saw a man come out and get into the truck and started it. But soon he got out and looked under the truck then started cussing a blue streak! It was then that Ron figured out he had just sat and watched as someone stole a transmission. Broad daylight, in a crowded parking lot looking like he was doing something that seemed a normal action.

  22. Listen to both the 911 caller and the call the officer made to the station after arriving at the scene.

  23. The 911 caller has disputed parts of the police report.


    911 caller in Gates arrest never referred to ‘black suspects’

    Attorney Wendy Murphy, who represents Whalen, also categorically rejected part of the police report that said Whalen talked with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, at the scene.

    “Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene,” Murphy told CNN by phone. “And she never said to any police officer or to anybody ‘two black men.’ She never used the word ‘black.’ Period.”

  24. lilacluvr

    So, this 911 caller is saying she ‘never’ had a conversation with Crowley at the scene?

    So, exactly when did Crowley write his report – and did he contact the 911 caller before or during his report?

    I thought all witnesses had to sign a statement or something like that in these cases – or is that just on television shows?

  25. Took this a few years ago.

    “Your data suggest little to no automatic preference between Black and White. “

    • I have wondered if tendency toward having a preference for one’s own group is correlated with age.

      I would think my parents would do worse than me; my kids better. I don’t know of any data supporting that hypothesis, though.

      Much of these data were collected in the late 90’s, early 00’s with college aged samples.

  26. jammer5

    I took the test and it said homeland security would be here shortly.

  27. Interesting test. I scored with a slight preference for European Americans, which doesn’t really surprise me, I guess. We all have certain natural affinities for those who are deemed similar to ourselves, however that is defined, and this clearly showed that I’m not as bias-free as I would have thought or would’ve liked. Thanks for the link. I think I’ll go through and take the rest of the tests as well.