Ken Boddie en Café beBee Ambassador • beBee 19/11/2016 · 3 min de lectura · 1,2K

Bias is only practised by ignorant people, right?

Bias is only practised by ignorant people, right?

I am the least biased person I know!  I am non-discriminatory, fair, pure of thought and heart, and well balanced in my judgements - BULLSH_T !!!!! 

My apparent puritanical misconception was last week, when I was much happier with myself, still delusional about my subconscious, and before I was exposed to the Implicit Association Test (IAT).  This eye-opening revelation of my subconscious prejudices and peculiar partialities was introduced, by way of homework, prior to a gathering of myself and my peers (labelled an Inclusive Leadership Workshop), chaired by a consultant from Diversity Partners here in Australia.

The whole concept works on word and picture association and has to be performed quickly, or else the results become invalid. Here are some of the tests available here in Australia, although you can readily obtain a list of tests for your own country:

  • Weight (Fat-Thin IAT).This IAT requires the ability to distinguish faces of people who are obese and people who are thin. It reportedly often reveals an automatic preference, in Australia, for thin people relative to fat people.
  • Skin-tone (Light Skin-Dark Skin IAT).This IAT requires the ability to recognise light and dark-skinned faces. It reportedly often reveals an automatic preference, in Australia, for light-skin relative to dark-skin. 
  • Age (young-old IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish old from young faces. This test often reportedly indicates that people, in Australia, have automatic preference for young over old.  
  • Race (Black-White IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish faces of European and African origin. It indicates that most people, in Australia, have an automatic preference for white over black.
  • Countries ('Australia-United States' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to recognise photos of national leaders and other national icons. The results revealed by this test reportedly provide a new method of appraising nationalism.  
  • Sexuality (Gay-Straight IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish words and symbols representing gay and straight people. It reportedly often reveals an automatic preference, in Australia, for straight people relative to gay people.

So, in order to dip my toe in the water and convince myself that this whole exercise makes sense, I chose to initially participate in the Race IAT. After all, I've lived and worked in a number of countries and continents over several decades, I'm married to an Indonesian lady, have been exposed to a variety of peoples, societies and their various good points and foibles, and am generally open to new ideas and am relatively liberal in my opinions. I therefore anticipated having no cognition of major differences in my behaviour, intentional or subliminal, with respect to race.

Incidentally this, of course, is solely my own opinion as I didn't think it essential, or even prudent, at this stage, to ask anyone, who knows me well (including my wife), what they think of my so called liberal attitudes.  

My obvious conclusion, prior to taking the Race IAT, was that I'm immune to any misconception of Northern European ethnic preferences, yes? Well, blow me down with a feather, and tickle my tonsils with a toothbrush, if my results didn't come back as follows:

Your data suggest a strong automatic preference for White People compared to Black People. 
Results of my Race IAT

So that you're aware of how damming this result is in my own eyes, the IAT reports adopt the terms 'slight', 'moderate', and 'strong', for either preference.  As a number of tests have been run in the last few years, the Australian database reportedly indicates the following breakdown for this particular IAT:

Bias is only practised by ignorant people, right?

From the above, it appears that, here in Australia, 70% of web respondents (i.e. the total of the first three lines in the above table) had a preference for white people.  Draw from this what you may, but after querying the viability of the methods of testing and analysis, and finding that a team of psychologists apparently failed in their endeavours to outsmart the testing procedure, I have been forced to accept that I am not the liberal minded person that I thought I was, and am a product of the formative years of my white upbringing in Scotland and of societally imposed racial prejudices, in spite of my varied experiences with many races and ethnic groups in later life.

I am still trying to find the moral fortitude to undertake some more of the tests listed above. Nevertheless, I encourage all you morally squeaky clean bees to jump in and verify how truly unbiased you undoubtedly are (or otherwise?) on whatever happens to be your preferred diversity. 😈

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I am advised that the IAT was developed by a consortium of researchers from Harvard, Yale, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington. The IAT is an effective tool to gain greater awareness about your own (unconscious) biases, preferences and beliefs. You'll find some useful background information on the IAT original and workings at the following link: http://www.projectimplicit.net/about.html

The IAT is publicly accessible via the internet and is free. There are several categories which relate to a range of human differences from which you can select. Furthermore, I understand that the IAT results are confidential and unattributable, based purely on heresay.

You can click here for the Australian tests: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/australia/  

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Bias is only practised by ignorant people, right?

When not researching the weird or the wonderful, the comical or the cultured, the sinful or the serious, I chase my creative side, the results of which can be seen as selected photographs of my travels on my website at:

http://ken-boddie.squarespace.com

The author of the above, Ken Boddie, besides being a sometime poet and occasional writer, is an enthusiastic photographer, rarely leisure-travelling without his Canon, and loves to interact with other like-minded people with diverse interests.

Ken's three day work week (part time commitment) as a consulting engineer allows him to follow his photography interests, and to plan trips to an ever increasing list of countries and places of scenic beauty and cultural diversity.



Ken Boddie Nov 20, 2016 · #39

#38 Awareness of our subconscious biases is certainly essential, Kev, if we are to benefit from diversity in the workforce. The IAT is certainly an essential tool in this respect and is not by any means a Character assessment tool. But with this knowledge comes the challenge of constantly reminding ourselves and bringing on board the tools and aids to look at the world of diversity. The lenses we wear don't always have to be convergent.

+1 +1
Kevin Pashuk Nov 20, 2016 · #38

Thanks for the tag Ken... This is an area where I tend to have some opinions... but I'll spare you. In my work I've been subjected to almost any personality profiling tool that is/was out there. All of them basically certify me as nuts... oh, wait, that was the test where I asked my wife if she thought I was 'normal'.

On the subject of bias... we all look at life through lenses, but they don't have to control us (i.e. allow us to excuse our behaviour). Being aware of how we are wired is usually a good step toward doing something about the shoddy areas.

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Praveen Raj Gullepalli Nov 20, 2016 · #37

#20 That's a lot of TV to watch Dean ;) Parents, Peers, Protests broadcast on TV, Religious wars that are always on, Bad music messaging, Books we read, Advertising...all play their parts I guess. But the fact is Bias is integral to the way most perceive people and things around them. Until Education or Experience teaches them otherwise.

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Praveen Raj Gullepalli Nov 20, 2016 · #36

#34 Yikes... gotta carry a spare pair from now on!! ;)

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CityVP Manjit Nov 20, 2016 · #35

#19 That is what learning is - a very long ladder in a snakes and ladder board of a life-time of experiences. Soul searching arises when reality throws up a dish we didn't think we would be served. I do think that it is the sheer weight of recent shifts of the populous that have shaken up people who had embraced 21st Century living, only to realize that evolution is operating from the century people are still living in, rather than the chronological century.

The value of soul searching is an essential transition in our own growth and it is absolutely healthy - so long as we keep our own focus on the health. Soul searching is best an opening up of our lives and not a withdrawal back. How that expresses itself in my own life is that I have to step out of what I think am in, rather than get deeper into the weeds of my own introspection that effect my inner biology.

It is the flow of our inner life - the cortisol, adrelanin, dopamine and serotonin reactions within us that are linked to our own mindfulness - never mind the inner psychological. What is happening to us is what is happening to the world - and that is why I welcome this conversation on bias, and later today will follow up on the link @Dean Owen provided on prejudice.

I am here to change the one thing that I know I can change in this world, which is me. I call this my learning journey but I also view the learning journey of others of people who I don't want to actually change, but simply appreciate. Our bodies are whole systems and bias is simply a small line item in the challenge of "know thyself". When I reframe meaning that way I begin to see wisdom.

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Ken Boddie Nov 20, 2016 · #34

#33 I have 'eau de papa' in my sights, Praveen. 🔫

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Praveen Raj Gullepalli Nov 20, 2016 · #33

#28 ''Shed'' is too big a word yes...''deal with'' is the word I used...''rationalise'' is another word...takes a bit of ego-bashing i guess...and some strong perfume too! ;)

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Praveen Raj Gullepalli Nov 20, 2016 · #32

#27 LOL...yeah! You da Sniper Mon!

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