The Implicit Association Test

This week, I chose to take two Implicit Association Tests (IATs) and talk about my experience with them and how I feel about my results.

I chose to take the sexuality and Race IATs. At first, I was asked a bunch of demographic questions like my race, ethnicity, sexuality, birthday, and level of education. Once I answered all 13 questions (which were not required), the tests began. I started with the sexuality test. At first I was shown a list of good words, bad words, “straight people” (a man and a woman), and “gay people” (either two men or two girls). Then, I was required to go through 7 series of words and images and sort them into the correct category as fast as possible. The E button was pressed when i saw something good, the I button was pressed when I saw something bad. As the test went on, I had to sort specific things into specific categories. I did mess up a few times trying to go as fast as I could. The Race Test was the same procedure, except slightly harder when show photos of black and white people. The pictures where gray so it was difficult for me to decipher which race was which.

My results were not shocking. When taking the tests it was easy to tell which way my results would go when I messed up. These tests could be useful for students my age who are confused and not sure how they feel, but I do not think that they are totally reliable because of how fast you have to select your choices and because they make it confusing by switching which button means what category.


3 thoughts on “The Implicit Association Test

  1. I do not feel it was fair either that the colors that were in black and white and you had to choose; I feel that this corrupts the test as a whole. Race and sexuality are two very controversial topics, so I feel that the test should have taken this into consideration. I agree that the speed that you must do the test at is extremely unfair as well; as it does not allow you to express your true personality. Maybe, your true personality is supposed to shine through regardless of how fast or slow you are able to do the test. But I know if I was taking the test at this speed, I would panic and not be able to use my true judgement without thinking. Although values are supposed to be engraved into us no matter what position we are put in, being put under pressure challenges us in order to make hard decisions that we might not always agree with.


  2. The speed aspect being a problem seems to be a pretty common complaint in these tests, and I completely agree, it’s so easy to hit the wrong button because you aren’t given time to process the information in front of you. However, I have no idea how you could fix it. I didn’t take the tests this time so I’m not sure exactly what they were like but I have taken them in the past, and from what I can recall, giving someone time to process the information could lead to dishonest results as it would give the person a chance to give the answer they prefer over what comes naturally. I think that this type of test should really be replaced with some better alternative, what that better alternative is I can’t quite say off the top of my head, but the tools we have now seem to be very flawed.


  3. I agree with the opinion that the tests are not reliable. The speed necessary for categorizing the images and the switching of which buttons correlated with which categories made it very easy to mess up. The optional questions in the beginning of the tests seemed like they were unrelated to the actual tests. The results were too generic to be surprising. I think the tests should be updated or changed completely to remove the pressure to complete them quickly and add better questions that will lead to more personalized results.


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