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The IATs

I chose to do the “Sexuality IAT” and the “Skin-tone IAT” as those are the two I’m most curious about for my results. I’ve never done one of those tests so, I didn’t know what exactly to expect. I would like to think I don’t have any bias in both meaning I don’t have preferences for straight/gay people or light-skinned/dark-skinned people.

Firstly, the sexuality IAT. Initially, I thought it was just going to be a bunch of written questions. However, it was asking me to press E or I for certain words to associate them with good/bad and with straight/gay people. For the first part, it was very normal and not confusing at all. I was just associating certain good words with “good” and bad words with “bad”. Similarly, I was associating sexuality words and emojis with “straight” and “gay”. No confusion till this point. Next, I was asked to associate words and emojis with either “good and straight” or “bad and gay” and then vice versa. I am very confused now because how can they know my bias toward a certain group from these questions. I was also very neutral in my answers at the end where it asked me if I have any preferences to those two groups. Moreover, it asked me about my sexuality and I chose straight. My result said it “suggested a moderate automatic preference for Straight people over Gay people.” As mentioned earlier, I was very neutral in my answers. Although I did some mistakes while associating words and emojis, I didn’t think my responses were somewhat biased at all. Maybe it’s because I said I’m straight and Muslim? Overall, it was a very interesting experience.

Second, the skin-tone IAT. Now that I have some background on how this test works, I was ready to do my next one. Again, I don’t think I have any bias towards a certain group of color. However, I was wondering if my results would show any preference toward light-skinned people as I’m considered a light-skinned myself. Again, same type of questions and associations. I was also asked to choose “how I wish my skin tone to be” and “my actual skin tone” and I just chose the same for both which is my actual skin tone. This time, the results are even more interesting. It says my responses “suggested a moderate automatic preference for Dark-Skinned White People over Light-Skinned White People.” I didn’t expect this at all! Now, I’m really curious about how this test comes up with such results.

Finally, I researched the credibility and validity of the IATs. I found this article which attempts to briefly explain how they work and if they are credible or not. Basically, the IAT measures how quick individuals associate words with good or bad. For example, it measures if one is quicker to link European-Americans with “bad” words and African-Americans with “good” ones or vice versa. Then, your response time is measured on this scale which indicates how “strong” your bias is. This might be one of the most creative ways to do such tests. Moving on, the article states that Russell Fazio, PhD, a social psychologist at Ohio State University, said “The bottom line is that it has a potential to be a remarkably powerful tool,” he says. “But as traditionally implemented, it really has problems.” So, these tests are apparently somewhat credible by actual psychologists. They also added that IATs does a better job at predicting people’s behavior than self-report in certain domains.

To conclude, the article states the IATs are credible to an extent. They are not credible enough to be used in courtrooms for instance. However, they do quite well in predicting people’s behaviors. I personally think it’s a very fabulous and creative concept. Not necessarily very accurate but, could be very much improved in the future.


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About Me

Hi! I’m Abdelrahman Osama. I’m an electronics engineering student in the American University of Cairo. Aspiring to be great in the future.

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