Ken Boddie in Café beBee Ambassador • beBee Nov 19, 2016 · 3 min read · 2.0K

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. 😈


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:

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:  


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:

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.

#46 I'll try it and let you know!

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Ken Boddie Jul 25, 2020 · #48

#47 The only MoCA test I’m interested in, @Paul Walters, is one that measures my biases towards chocolate and coffee. 😂

Paul Walters Jul 25, 2020 · #47

Better stick to the cognitive test that Trump aced !!

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Ken Boddie Jul 25, 2020 · #46

#45 Indeed, @Franci🐝Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador, but it could be stated that not knowing why we are prejudiced isn't as bad as not even knowing we are prejudiced. The road to repair may be long and winding, but, as in many things, it starts with a revelation, and then a goal to change. BTW, have you tried any of the Implicit Association Tests at the link I provided? You might get an eye opener, for the best or worst. 🤣

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#44 Most definitely more so, IMO, @Ken Boddie. Archaic mindsets don't change overnight. It took years and years for these ideas and opinions to form and it will take years for resolutions. Many people don't even know why they are prejudiced! Because of their upbringing or perhaps, family and friends. History repeats itself especially ugly history.

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Ken Boddie Jul 24, 2020 · #44

I had the occasion to refer to this old post of mine in a recent comment stream. Having read it again, it appears to me that the subject of bias, subconscious or otherwise, is just as valid today as it was four years ago ... perhaps even more so?

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Ken Boddie Jan 9, 2017 · #43

#42 I'm glad I don't live in the America you describe and have experienced, Lyon, and I understand and respect that your views are a product of these experiences. Fortunately (or unfortunately where appropriate) there are large parts of the world where our prejudices and biases are less obvious or even subliminal. One main point brought out in the workshop, however, and supported by the IATs, was that our prejudicial preferences are often so subtle that we are entirely unaware of them. I invite you to try one or two of the tests, preferably on subjects with which you consider you have no bias, and see how you go. Surely the first step in repairing our biased opinions of our fellow human beings is to first become aware of our biases and then, and only then, can we make an attempt to move forward.

Lyon Brave Jan 9, 2017 · #42

It takes a racist to be racists .I haven't been fat yet. I haven't been old yet, but I have been black. Let me tell you it sucks sometimes being black in white dominated societies because you know how the test confirms what we already know about whites perferungwhites, while that has ramifications of keeping minority groups down because at Ian interview that means they prefer a white candidate. Here in America our cops do gun for a lot of minor ours in fact Hispanics and blacks make up 75% of the prison population. I don't see my people because they have been locked up like animals. Everyone wants to pretend like America is so great. I like to say America is great if you are white. There is a reason the BLack Lives Matter Movment started to form just recently. unfortunately racism isn't the only problem, ageism is a real problem were we devalue some of our wisest members in society. We certainly need to love the rainbow of life, get out of our comfort zones and look at what's inside of the package.

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