Thursday, March 4, 2010

IAT, discovering your subconscious...

So basically the IAT examines our opinions, beliefs, and ideas about a variety of subjects. When you open up the website you are asked if you would like to register and be a part of the actual research or just to take part in a demonstration of what the tests are like. I decided to register and have my data be used to help them with their experiment called Project Implicit. The test itself consists of a bunch of choices or decision making tasks, and the second part consists of categorization, where you have to sort things into different categories as quickly as possible. The aim of this study is to help the experimenters learn and better understand how people think about certain issues, sometimes subconsciously, and provide the examinee with an engaging experience.
When you first begin the test you are given instructions about the first section of the test which will take about 5 minutes. You are told that you will be separating things into groups or categories by pressing either the "i" or "e" key on your keyboard. The "i" key moves things to the category on the right side and the "e" moves things to the category on the left. It states that there is a correct answer and that you must try and sort these things into their categories as quickly as possible or the data will not be used. When you make an error you must correct it by pushing the opposite key and then you can move on.
I was given a test on conservative vs. liberal. First I was asked to separate things into the two categories of "other" and "self." Some of the words used here were "mine," "I," "theirs," and "they." The second part asked me to separate things into two different categories, but the rules did not change. I was given the two categories of liberal or conservative. Some of the words that I was asked to sort were "right wing," "left wing," "George Bush," or "Barack Obama."
The next part got a little more complicated and asked me to separate things in two categories on both sides, the first time I went through this Democrat/other was one category and self/Republican was another, the words talked about in the previous parts of the test were used here. Then the categories were switched around, other/republican and self/democrat.
The next part of the test was a questionare format. I was told to answer the questions honestly and then move on. Once I was done with the questions I was asked to participate in a follow up within the next 2-3 days and I agreed to that.
Interestingly enough, I should no strong association with either group even though I feel that I am strongly associated with the democratic party. Although while here at Southwestern I have lost some of my interest in politics, simply due to lack of time to read about it and watch the debates, I still feel a strong tug towards my party. In this test I rendered a non-preference for either. I think that was interesting because, this year especially, I literally have no idea what has been going on and therefore, do not know how I agree with at this time. I have a feeling that my heart still lies with the liberals, but at this time, I don't literally know because I haven't been following politics.
I really don't think that this is some underlying belief that I have or that I am confused about where my allegiance lies, because there are so many things that I could NEVER agree with that are associated with the Republican party, but I think that I understand why my data didn't suggest a preference either way. The only reason is because I have not been following what has been going on, and therefore can not determine what I believe.
I took another test that measured ageism, that is a preference for young people over older people or visa versa. This test asked me to separate things into two categories bad/good or old/young using pictures of people of different ages. I came out with exactly what I expected, a slight preference for young people over old people. I knew that I would obtain something like this simply because I have had some really bad experiences at nursing homes in my life and have only know a few elderly people who have been nice to me... :( I have actually been trying to change these views and was happy that it was only a slight preference rather then it saying you are an evil ageist. I still need to work on it though because I associate the elderly with being racist and unkind to people of color, especially the Hispanic population where I grew up.
The one thing that I had a problem with while taken the IAT was that I felt that I became acclimated to a certain category, (i.e. good associated with youth or visa versa) and that this made the switch a lot harder then the first part. At least in my opinion, they should at least attempt to re-acclimate twice rather then just the one time, in order to make sure the every individual has a good grasp on the categories at the top of the screen. I know that his may have seriously effect me with my first test because I was not used to the format and was not ready for the switch.
When I retook the test on ageism I got the same results and that made perfect sense to me!
Other than that, I thought that the test was awesome and I will probably take some more of them later on, but for now that's all.

Greenwald, A. G., & Farnham, S. D. (2000). Using the Implicit Association Test to measure self-esteem and self-concept. Journal of Personality and Social psychology, 79, 1022-1038.

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