The Race Implicit Association Test Essay
The Race Implicit Association Test
I tried the Race Implicit Association Test (IAT) at www. implicit. harvard. edu . At the beginning I was asked about my attitude towards African Americans and European Americans, I confidently answered that I was neutral. I started the test with a strong conviction that I do not discriminate between African and European Americans. The warm up phase flashed several pictures of African and European Americans, and then I was prompted to press e when I see a black face and ii when I see a white face.
That phase was easy but then the part which required to categorize pictures and words together such as a black face and a good word (love, peace.. ) and a white face and a bad word (nasty, evil.. ) and vice versa was difficult. The result showed that I have a moderate automatic preference for European American compared to African American. The site revealed that one gets an ‘automatic preference for European American’ rating if one responded faster when European American faces and Good words were classified with the same key than when African American faces and Good words were classified with the same key .
The site revealed that almost seventy percent of people who take test have a slight – strong automatic preference for European Americans compared to African Americans. Meaning, this seventy percent had difficulty associating the good words with the face of African Americans, and obvious manifestation of racial preference. I wonder what this meant for me. At the beginning of the test I was so sure that I have no bias whatsoever, however the result was rather confusing.
I gather that that while I have stated values which I use to direct or control my behavior deliberately; my unconscious attitude manifests itself in instances where there is no chance for me to deliberate. The result showed how incompatible my pronounced convictions are to my unconscious behavior. Upon reflection, I realized that my biases are the product of societal stimuli which are institutionalized in our everyday life. For example, print advertisements depict heavenly with a white person clothed in blinding light and depicts evil as dark.
These stimuli condition our minds and make us associate certain words to a certain race. We seem to have stored in our brain what certain things should look like. Thus, we find it difficult to associate black with good. We have stereotypes embedded in our subconscious which manifests when we are faced with situations when we need to make split second decisions, when we need to act without deliberation. Say for example when we meet strangers for the first time, we probably would give higher trust to a white person than to a black person because of the bad and wrongs associated with the race.
The unconscious part of our brain silently processes all the data available from all the experiences we’ve had, the people we’ve met, the books we’ve read, movies we’ve watched and then it forms an opinion. On a conscious level we would never discriminate, in fact the state has adopted policies which ban discrimination. The Equal protection clause of our constitution guarantees non-discrimination under any circumstance.
However, our unconscious is not covered by this prohibition, or it does not recognize this prohibition because it manifests without us being able to deliberate and rationalize our judgment. It is possible for us to discriminate at any given time, without us knowing it. This is manifest in our behavior around people; a person who has a strong inclination towards white person would naturally lean forward a little more towards a white person or turn-away farther from a black person. This situation may happen anytime and anywhere we meet the stimuli which cause us to discriminate.