Implicit Association Test: Are You Secretly Racist? (Hint: You Are)
It’s American election season and that means it is time for psychologists to introduce racism again - not whether you are racist, but how much.
Well, only white people are, said a talk at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. Even if they do not have any racist thoughts or lock their car door when they see a young, black man on the sidewalk and voted for Obama in 2008, white people still are; and their racial attitudes, both conscious and unconscious, may be a significant factor in this year’s U.S. presidential election. A survey says so.
“People may not even be aware that they have certain racial attitudes and that could be why, even with an African-American president in the White House for nearly four years, race continues to play a role in electoral politics,” Anthony G. Greenwald, PhD, said in an interview. Greenwald was lead researcher on a Anthony G. Greenwald, Ph.D., survey of 15,000 voters. Surveys and statistics dressed up as science should make more than white voters nervous.
The survey asked respondents about their political beliefs, how “warmly” they felt toward black and white people, and which presidential contender they preferred. The survey was done between January and April 2012, while the Republican hopefuls included Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The research team also measured unconscious racial attitudes using the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which Greenwald developed more than a decade ago to measure thoughts and biases that people don’t realize they have. Variations of the test measure implicit attitudes about topics such as race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. It’s a test designed to uncover racism, even if it is unconscious. Not surprisingly, it always does.