28 September 2007

Implicit Association Tests

I followed a link to Project Implicit, which according to their website:

“represents a collaborative research effort between researchers at Harvard University, the University of Virginia, and University of Washington. While the particular purposes of each study vary considerably, most studies available at Project Implicit examine thoughts and feelings that exist either outside of conscious awareness or outside of conscious control. The primary goals of Project Implicit are to provide a safe, secure, and well-designed virtual environment to investigate psychological issues and, at the same time, provide visitors and participants with an experience that is both educational and engaging.”

There’s a variety of different IATs (Implicit Association Tests), but the one that was available at the time for non-registrants like me (registration is free, I think) was a “Multicultural-Unicultural IAT”. Apparently, registrants can participate in studies regarding social groups, pop culture, personality, and more. The IAT I tried took 5-10 minutes, and mainly consisted of assigning words and pictures to their correct categories as quickly as possible. There were also a few questions tacked on to the end.

Taking the IAT I was slightly anxious about what the results would be. Would the results reflect what I believe about myself, or would they suggest a disconnect between my conscious and unconscious beliefs, and if so how might that be influencing my behaviour?

Of course, these types of “tests” shouldn’t be taken too seriously or as something that is written in stone. I look at it as being educational and entertaining--which is what the website itself says.

Having said that, I admit I was relieved that at least in this instance my unconscious feelings were in accord with my conscious ones.

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