Posted by: Susan Hendrich | May 14, 2008

Spotlight on…Implicit assumptions

Do hidden biases affect your leadership and training?

Project Implicit

Project Implicit provides a short online test that provides the opportunity to assess your conscious and unconscious preferences for over 90 different topics ranging from “pets to political issues, ethnic groups to sports teams, and entertainers to styles of music.” By taking this test, you’ll be assisting psychological research on thoughts and feelings.

The individual sessions take 10-15 minutes. At the end of the session, you will get some information about the study and a summary of your results. Interesting and informative!

About the project

Project Implicit blends basic research and educational outreach in a virtual laboratory at which visitors can examine their own hidden biases. Project Implicit is the product of research by three scientists whose work produced a new approach to understanding of attitudes, biases, and stereotypes.

The Project Implicit site (implicit.harvard.edu) has been functioning as a hands-on science museum exhibit, allowing web visitors to experience the manner in which human minds display the effects of stereotypic and prejudicial associations acquired from their socio-cultural environment.

Take me to Project Implicit!

Here’s the scoop on the test behind the project:

It is well known that people don’t always ‘speak their minds’, and it is suspected that people don’t always ‘know their minds’. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology.

The Implicit Association Test (IAT) shows us that we learn to quickly link or associate sets of ideas in our brains. We might tend to associate the words “sunny” with “good” and “overcast” with “bad”. Besides linking the words, we are linking the concepts and feelings that go with those words and we act on those feelings. The IAT is a way to see how closely our brains have linked certain concepts. The strength of the links is hard wired in our brains.

Note that the IAT has not gone without controversy (see Wall Street Journal; Science News Article).

Your turn

So, now that your interest is piqued…

How can we incorporate what we know abotu implicit assumptions into our learning and development practices?  Let’s discuss ways to uncover hidden biases and optimize the training experience!

More information:

  1. Dr. Anthony Greenwald/IAT Materials
  2. http://faculty.washington.edu/agg/IATmaterials/PDFs/R&W.JEPG(2004).pdf
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