Monday, January 2, 2017

IMPLICIT BIAS - IAT: What is it?

Very few people want to be called a racist or a sexist or an ageist. Whenwe hear those insulting terms, we bristle, and for good reason. We all like to think of ourselves as fair people. Most of us are not explicitly biased or, as we call it, racist, sexist, etc. However, it's human nature to have biases, based on our own experiences, teachings, and familiarity with those like and unlike us. Having an implicit bias, a leaning for or against certain groups or characteristics, is normal. If we can identify those biases, we can work on addressing, if not eliminating them.

At the suggestion of an attorney I know, I have taken four of the implicit bias tests developed by researchers as Harvard. IAT tests. And yes, I, am biased. There are several tests. When you take one on a computer, your views are determined in part by the rapidity of responses and, of course, the content of responses.

I took four tests, to determine if I am biased regarding race, age, gender professions an the Muslim religion.  Generally, people are biased toward groups in which they belong. Regarding race, surprisingly, I am slightly biased toward African-Americans, and not Caucasians like me.  Regarding age, I apparently have no bias toward young or old. Likewise, I have no bias regarding gender professions, probably because I am a lawyer. The test that is more troubling to me was the implicit bias test regarding Muslims. I am slightly biased against Muslims. That is valuable information for me, so that I can work on consciously overcoming this bias. I could spend a long time hypothesizing why my results were the way they were. However, I would rather understand that I have biases, on which I can work.

I suggest those of you reading this take the IAT.  "What do you have to lose?"

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