After completing the IAT last week, I began to really think about the meaning of the test itself and whether the test is a reliable measure of someone’s unconscious thoughts. This thought became even more prevalent after reading the article by Blair (2002) and also the article by Karpinski and Hilton (2001). The articles seem to support the fact that implicit attitudes may be influenced and/or changed by environmental factors and outside forces. I have always perceived the IAT as a direct measure of the implicit biases that live in our unconscious thoughts and feelings. While I have never been convinced that implicit attitudes shape behavior, I always believed that the test itself measures the thoughts that someone has beneath the surface of explicit and conscious understanding. Blair’s article, however, shows that there are many factors that may influence the attitudes of someone and that the context of a situation is a determinant in implicit attitudes. Reading the article by Blair (2002) allowed for a new understanding of how are implicit behaviors are shaped.
This week, we were asked to complete two IAT’s. One that measured our level of association between Blacks and weapons and another the measured ones preference of Blacks versus Whites. I am not skeptical of the tests accuracy. I believe that it can truly measure ones implicit feelings; however, I do question whether these feelings can ever be truly implicit. I believe that the mind is a powerful thing, and that if an individual wants to believe he or she holds certain values, they can convince themselves of it. I do not however think that within an individual, they do not doubt their wanted behaviors. I have a hard time believing that someone can be unaware of their biases/associations when asked directly if such biases/associations exist. They may not know that their bias/association is as strong as a test may show; however, I feel that they must be aware of it. Can someone be truly unaware of his or her biases?
Measuring implicit prejudice:
I found the Implicit Associations Test to be extremely frustrating. It was aggravating knowing which letter I was supposed to press and actually getting my fingers to press the correct letter. I found myself yelling at the computer and at myself when I would press the wrong letter. I also had a hard time remembering what categories corresponded with “e” or “i” and there were times I didn’t mean to press a button but my fingers did it for me. It made me feel somewhat helpless. I couldn’t control how I answered the questions even though I really do not dislike black people.