IATs are here, there, everywhere

It could just be my own recent exposure to implicit association tests (IATs), but it seems like they’re getting more attention outside academia. Exhibit A: Nick Kristof’s column yesterday. (BTW, Kristof speaks this Thursday at 8 in Leverone!)

I’ve taken Harvard’s race IAT several times (and used it in an experiment for my thesis) but wasn’t aware of UChicago’s test on the shooter effect prior to Kristof’s column. Kristof writes that he was quicker to shoot armed blacks and took longer to holster his gun for unarmed ones. While I was also quicker to shoot armed blacks (649 vs. 707 milliseconds), I took longer to holster my gun for unarmed whites (739 vs. 712 ms). Any interpretations, folks?

A race IAT was a major component of my thesis for LB’s class last quarter. Based on a study at Stanford, which found that undergraduates exposed to the school’s sexual harassment policy displayed stronger automatic preference for men on a gender IAT, my thesis examined whether undergraduates at Northwestern exposed to the school’s hate speech code displayed stronger automatic preference for whites on a race IAT. The result: Nope.

More people should take IATs and consider their biases. Exposing others to these tests could help them better understand how their minds operate.


2 Responses to IATs are here, there, everywhere

  1. laurabethnielsen says:

    David’s back! Yay!

    There is a growing body of research critiquing the IAT that I have been wanting to familiarize myself with. One that I know of is a guy at Berkeley (in the school of public policy) named Jack Glazer. He basically demonstrates that there are ways to combat these effcts for decisions that do not have to be made in a split second (like hiring or firing) by including more people in the deliberation, by taking longer to make decisions, etc.

  2. dspett says:

    Cool! I’ll read up.

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