Bias shows through when Blazers take the Implicit Association Tests


April 6, 2005, midnight | By Zahra Gordon | 15 years, 7 months ago


Many people, including Blazers, say they are not prejudiced but in fact are, according to recent results from Implicit Association Tests (IATs).

The IATs are psychological tests used to gauge biases towards all kinds of people, such as women, homosexuals and even senior citizens. According to an article published by The Washington Post Magazine on Jan. 23, the tests, which can be taken over the Internet, have been taken by nearly two million people, 90 percent of whom are American, and have been used in numerous research studies. Researchers have found, among other things, that 48 percent of blacks had an anti-black bias, 36 percent of Arab Muslims had an anti-Muslim bias and 38 percent of homosexuals had an anti-homosexual bias.

Professors Mahzarin Banaji of Harvard and Anthony Greenwald of the University of Washington developed the tests in 1994. Before taking the test, subjects are asked a few questions such as their age, gender, educational level and political affiliation (conservative or liberal). Blair students who took the test found that while they thought they had no biases, they, in fact, did, even though there is a high level of diversity at Blair.

Junior Sam Silsbee, who is white, took the race, homosexual and gender bias IATs and found that he was racist, sexist and homophobic, according to the tests. Silsbee does not believe he is any of these things and does not think that the tests are accurate. "[The test] is not a judge of character. It's just about initial reactions," says Silsbee.

Silsbee's race bias test results were the same as a few other Blazers who took the test. Thandeka Dlodlo, a black junior, also feels that her results were inaccurate. Dlodlo, who took the test on Feb. 14, was confused by results that said she had a slight preference for whites over blacks. According to Dlodlo, she is more comfortable around blacks but sees nothing wrong with being around whites.

Braulio Salas, a sophomore with parents from the Dominican Republic, describes himself as a very open-minded person. "I have white friends, Asian friends, black friends, even Indian friends. It doesn't matter to me," says Salas. But Salas' test results were not reflective of this attitude; the test results indicated that he, too had a slight preference for whites over blacks, which he feels is not reflective of who he is. "That's not true. I just have bad reflexes," defends Salas.

Senior Melissa Michel, who is black, does not believe that her test results were accurate either. Her results indicated that she had a preference for whites over blacks, though she disagrees. "I equally accept both races," says Michel.

Freshman Matthew Dant, who is white, expressed the same attitude when his race test results said that he had a preference for white over black. Dant says that he has a diverse group of friends and believes that his test results were incorrect. "Half of my friends are black. Half of my friends are white. I don't just hang with one group," says Dant.

The tests also showed that there were differences in biases between people who consider themselves liberal and those who consider themselves conservative. According to The Washington Post Magazine, conservatives were more likely to have biases towards homosexuals, black people and Arab Muslims.

Jocelyn Dowling, a white junior who considers herself "very liberal," admits that the majority of her friends are white but says that it's not because she wants things to be that way. Her race bias test results said that she had no biases which was surprising to her. "I expected it to tell me that I had a small bias," says Dowling.

Like Dowling is, the race test that junior Kevin Charles, who is Indian, took said that he had no biases. Charles was also surprised by his results and is unsure of the accuracy of the tests. "I think everybody wants to believe they have no biases, but everybody has a stereotype built into them," says Charles.

Blair has a student body of 3,300 from all different corners of the globe. Though they all go to the same school, take the same classes and eat lunch with each other, biases towards other races are still prevalent, according to this test.

If you would like to take one of the IATs, you can click here.



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Zahra Gordon. Zahra Gordon is 16-year old JUNIOR at Blair who is overwhelmingly proud of being from the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad & Tobago (and she never fails to mention that). She has been living in Maryland for four years. If you're ever trying to find … More »

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