Implicit Racism in our Society and the Harvard Implicit Association Test

Essay by rel541College, UndergraduateA, March 2007

download word file, 5 pages 5.0

The Harvard University's Implicit Association Test is used to measure a person's level of unconscious bias. The test administers a variety of assessments to determine the subject's views on certain issues, such as gender, race, disability and weight. I chose to test my subconscious attitudes about European and African Americans. Before taking the Implicit Association Test, I did not think that I had a bias towards European Americans. I was very surprised that my test results proved that I do have a moderate bias toward European Americans. I chose to analyze the Implicit Association Test on race because racial prejudice is a persistent problem in the United States that often gets overlooked.

The Implicit Association Test begins with a short questionnaire that encourages the subject to think about their explicit associations based on race. Explicit associations are thoughts, attitudes and feelings that we are aware of and actively control.

Next, the test presents words to be sorted into two categories as quickly as possible. The first section involves categorizing faces as African American or European, then the test gives a list of words with good and bad connotations that the subject must sort into the categories "good" and "bad." The words and the faces are then combined and the subject must sort both the "good" and "bad" words along with the African American and European American faces. The words and faces are switched from one side to the other and sorted once more before the test results are revealed.

Sorting words with negative and positive connotations along with race enables the Implicit Association Test to determine a person's subconscious feelings about African Americans and European Americans. The more closely the two concepts are related in a person's mind, the faster they will match them together. Matching...