Ken Boddie en Café beBee Ambassador • beBee 19/11/2016 · 3 min de lectura · 1,5K

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 9/1/2017 · #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.

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Lyon Brave 9/1/2017 · #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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Ken Boddie 4/12/2016 · #41

#40 Surprise was the prevalent reaction with most of my peers also, Claire. Goes to show that we don't necessarily know ourselves as well as we think we might, and that our subconscious biases may be deeper ingrained into our behaviour than anticipated. You might say we need to know the symptoms before we can concoct a cure! 🤔

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Claire 🐝 Cardwell 4/12/2016 · #40

I've just taken the test @Ken Boddie and I have a strong preference for darker toned people! It was a bit of an eye opener I thought I would be more neutral.

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Ken Boddie 20/11/2016 · #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.

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Kevin Pashuk 20/11/2016 · #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 20/11/2016 · #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 20/11/2016 · #36

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

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