Implicit Associations Tests Exercise

Harvard’s Implicit Associations Test is interesting, as loaded as an adjective as that is in this case.  The visual portion of the test makes certain assumptive social constructs that particular categories of individuals “look” a specific way (I took the gender- science test and the African American-European American test—twice) rather than another.  There was no room for variations or exceptions to this test “rule”. For any interested in seeing the tests, please click on this link,, and find “Demo”.

Now to the results, what I found, what I think of them, and the test.

1. I took the Gender- Science Test and the African American-European American Test—twice.

2. The tests’ results were not consistent with my conscious attitudes and beliefs very simply because the tests did not allow for an African American that “looks” like a European American, who looks like a Hispanic American, who looks like an Asian American, or who looks like any other variety of multi-racial or multi-ethnic American.  Additionally the test allowed for no variation in the test answers if I associate the adjective of one stereotypical “racial characteristic” or gender characteristic with the one that is not associated with that stereotype.  When I attempted to do this, my answers were marked “wrong”.

3. I think I obtained the results I did because I learned how to “take” the tests in a particular way and in a way that my brain was able to respond and follow the directions of the test that stated that the adjectives of one type and one social construct had to be associated with one key on the keyboard and the adjectives of another type and social construct had to be associated with another key on the keyboard. Once again, my impression of the tests is that they test your ability to take tests and very little else.

4. What do I think the IAT is showing? My “true” attitude; an attitude I probably have, but am trying to change; an old association I thought I had changed; cultural associations; something else?   I think the IAT is showing a minute amount of my true attitude, little of an attitude I have or am attempting to change, none of an old association, and little of my cultural associations but a LOT of the assumptive associations of the test creators and the test itself.  The test assumes certain adjectival associations with one job category and not another, which is assumptive and wrong, and it assumes that certain people of one cultural category “look” one way and not another.  That is also assumptive, and it is very wrong.

5. Completing the IAT did not make me think about stereotypes and prejudice any differently than I did before. Given that I have lived in a few different cities, states, and one other country so far, each of those places has unique stereotypes, prejudicial and racist problems, but at the same time, they are all the same.  The reason I disagree with the test results is entirely because of personal reasons.  I was raised and influenced by strong family leaders who were women, my grandmother and my aunt. Both are very mathematical and science oriented and both are art oriented.  Additionally, all of my somewhat close friends are multicultural as well as my cultural background itself. Let me reiterate, I believe the tests test for a very narrow cultural bias in the United States and I believe a cultural and sexist bias is built into the test to confirm the biases of the test preparers already existing biases, prejudices, and racism.

6. I went back to the IAT website and took one of the tests over again, the African American European American Test. I tried to change my results (and still took the test in a valid manner—e.g. I didn’t close my eyes). I was not successful.  The results I obtained the first time were the same as the results the second time.

What does this make me thing of the IAT? The IAT is a test, and, as such, I strongly associate tests with testing only the ability of people to take “tests,” to understand how to take “tests,” and, depending on the individual’s ability, to be able to ‘learn” how to take “test,s” to achieve the highest scores.  It is this, rather than testing the ability of the test taker to learn genuinely and to learn to think critically that general tests and the IAT tests specifically.

Someone please feel free to correct my opinion of the IAT and what I found.

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