The Implicit Association Test

I decided to take these test because I have never done one and wanted to see what they were like and how they worked. After taking a few of these tests, I can understand why people use them and how someone might see them as an accurate way to see someone’s deeper thoughts and interactions but I can also see some flaws with these tests based off of my own results.One test I participated in was about race preference and the other test was comparing my feeling toward flowers and insects. For both of the tests I took, there was one repeated format that I had to do. On each test I was given words which I had to separate into two different categories by clicking on which category that word belonged to when it popped up on the screen. Throughout the 7 different parts of each test they added two additional categories, either “good words” or “bad words,” on top of the old ones and mixed and switched them up but my instructions stayed the same. Altogether each test took about 3 to 4 minutes to complete.  
The first test I took was the “race test” where they would identify whether I preferred white or black people more. In this test, I did a trial where one side’s category side was “black people” or “good words” and the other side was “white people” or “bad words” and when either a picture or a word popped up I had to put them in the corresponding left or right categories. After a few tests of switching side of the categories and mixing up the terms, my results finally came out. On my results page it said, “Your data suggests a weak automatic preference for White people over Black people.” I was surprised and amused by this result to be honest, considering that I happen to be black. In further explanation, the test told me that I had a preference for white people based off of my ability to match up the “good words” and the white people’s pictures easier and faster than I was able to do with the black pictures. I can understand the results from that viewpoint but I feel that the results might have been slightly different with different word choice. Some of the words like agony, hurt, and failure can easily be interpreted as words associated with the history of African American struggle in our country instead of “bad words.” I can’t say that those words alone would have made the difference on my results specifically but I do definitely think that there is at least some possibility for that.

My second test was the “insect-flower” test which was extremely similar to the previous test. For this test I was given “pleasant” and “unpleasant” words and a list of different flowers and insects. Then I was asked to move specific words and objects into the different categories just like the first test. My results for this test said, “Your data suggests a strong automatic preference for FLOWERS compared to INSECTS.” According to the test, how easy it was for me to categorize words when flowers and pleasant words were paired together compared to when flowers and unpleasant words were paired showed that I preferred flowers over insects. The big problem I had with this test is that I have always loved playing with bugs and never been scared or grossed out by them. Another fact about me leading to my concern about these results is that I’ve always had really bad allergies and have always been told not to play with grass and flowers because of how itchy and allergic I would get. The only thing I can think might have caused my results is the way society views these two categories. Naturally I think that most people would say that flowers are seen as beautiful, romantic, and peaceful. Insects on the other hands would probably be described as gross, creepy, or even scary. Knowing that society has always seen these two categories as opposites most likely made it much easier to pair things up that way, but I wouldn’t say that I, personally, have a preference for flowers over insects.

Considering how I didn’t really agree with either of the tests I took, I couldn’t see myself promoting, recommending, or participating in these type of tests in the future. They could possibly work for other people but I didn’t feel that it was enough to determine the personal results that it came up with. Each person has different factors that play a part in different test subjects and those things should be analyzed when considering the results for tests such as these.

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One thought on “The Implicit Association Test

  1. You raise a good point about the choice of words in the test Reggie. Slightly different words may have provoked a different response. On an unrelated note, if you like bugs you should consider taking Dr. Garcia’s “Insects and Human Society” or “Entomology” courses.

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