Taking the Implicit Associations Test (IAT) was an interesting experience as it offers an opportunity to find out something you do not know about yourself that might also effect your behavior. While I believe that I do not have any prejudice against any race, the test might have detected something I am not aware of. However, my results indicated that I do not have an automatic preference between Black people and White people, meaning that there was no difference in how much time I spent matching and grouping good and bad words with pictures of Black people and White people. This result places me together with 18% of population who also do not have an automatic preference between Black people and White people.
I was not surprised by the result. I am Black and my whole life I have been surrounded by people of different races and ethnicities. When I was a child, I lived in predominately Black neighborhood, and attended predominately White elementary school. In my middle and high schools, Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics were equally represented. After graduating high school I lived in a town in Central Illinois with only 8% Black population. My ex-wife was White. After I left Illinois, I joined the army. There, I was surrounded by people of all skin colors and different ethnicities, even though military is dominated by Whites. My current wife is Black, our friends are from different ethnic backgrounds, and we live in predominately Hispanic area. Among my friends, there are people of different races. Surrounded by very diverse people all my life and getting to know representatives of different ethnicities, I am not surprised that IAT test has not documented any automatic preference between Black people and White people. After all, being part of a diverse environment teaches us not to differentiate between people of different races. While the background information about the test mentions that there is no research-supported way to eliminate the implicit bias, I suppose exposing oneself to diverse environments and building close relationships with people from different ethnic backgrounds is key to overcoming any prejudice.
IAT is a powerful and convenient inventory for measuring attitudes that people are unwilling or unable to report as these attitudes may be regarded as socially unwanted. This is the most important strength of this test as it does not rely on participants’ self-reports which may be inaccurate. By automating the process and measuring reaction time for grouping either positive or negative concepts with pictures of representatives of certain group, the test is capable to spotting the biased attitudes that may influence person’s behavior without them even being aware of it. Thus, IAT may serve as an educating inventory to raise awareness of one’s exiting biases so that one can safeguard their decision-making process from the influence this implicit prejudice might have on their choices. This is important for those, whose work or duty requires them to remain fair towards different racial groups.
As far as IAT weaknesses go, the test results may present a troubling information about oneself that one should be prepared to handle. It is important to recognize that all people have biases and being aware of your implicit prejudice is better than not knowing about it. Secondly the test results may slightly be affected by the order of different parts. Even though creators claim that the effect is very small, it is still something to consider when employing this testing technique. Lastly, IAT may be used to make decisions about people based on the information about the prejudice they have. Thus, if not used with due caution and understanding this test may be used in ways that contradict its original intention reducing the effect of implicit bias on behavior.