The Project Implicit web site provides a variety of Implicit Association Tests (IAT) which claim to reveal implicit (unconscious) associations the participant has towards particular groups such as Blacks or Whites, gays or straights, or fat or thin people. Project Implicit claims that what we might consciously report as our attitudes or preferences towards a group might not coincide with our unconscious attitudes and preferences. The IAT is designed to detect those unconscious associations.
Type of Material:
This site consists of various on-line tests/activities. The visitor is asked to provide some basic demographic information and is advised that this is not a validated tool.
All users can try out a variety of tests to explore their unconscious biases, preferences, and associations.
Instructors can send students to the site to further explore how unconscious preferences can be identified and can be different from our consciously expressed ones.
Instructors can also ask students to first identify their preferences or associations towards certain groups, and then assign them to complete one or more of the tests. Students can then write about why there was or was not a discrepancy between their conscious and unconscious associations.
This site could be used in a research methods class or to illustrate the notion of "implicit" in the context of memory or testing. It could also be used to demonstrate the importance of proper debriefing after participating in psychological research. Some may be disturbed by the implicit attitudes revealed.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
This site permits the user to participate in a psychological test, illustrating the ways that implicit tests can be conducted. While it is not designed with a specific learning goal, the visitor will learn something about implicit tests and elements of a proper testing environment (e.g., informed consent). Users who participate in one or more of the Implicit Association Tests will be able to
-- potentially identify their own unconscious biases, preferences, or associations towards certain groups
-- identify and describe one method for measuring people's implicit (or unconscious) biases, preferences, or associations
Target Student Population:
High school through graduate school students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
While no prerequisites are mandated, students should be provided with the appropriate context before being sent to this site.
Evaluation and Observation
The site provides a considerable range of well-designed tests of implicit (unconscious) associations. The design is quite elegant and clever, providing illumination of a heretofore difficult concept to investigate. The value of these tests is evidenced by the hundreds of studies that have used them.
Instructions are clearly explained, and the brief tests are easy to complete.
Explanation of and rationale for the tests are available and clear.
Accessible feedback on test performance is provided.
While the site does provide "warnings," it would benefit from more discussion of the factors that might skew the results - as well as more discussion of why implicit testing is sometimes the best approach.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
These deceptively simple tests provide an excellent tool for exploring, discussing, and comparing conscious and unconscious processes related to individual and group perceptions.
The brief tests provide an excellent activity for students to engage in as a precursor for a discussion of stereotyping, prejudice, group processes, unconscious processes, and more.
The tests also often force users to confront personal biases or preferences towards different groups and their members. Users can explore their results on topics that they both feel strongly about, as well as others that do not have an emotional element. Users will also have a chance to consider their "scores" objectively - even if some results are disturbing.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Very well-designed site makes it easy to navigate between sections of the site as well as find relevant sections.
Very attractive and professional design.
Those with concerns about the tests or the results can easily locate information that addresses many of the questions users often have. The designers have anticipated many such concerns.
It is unnecessarily labor-intensive to complete one test and then to do another. There is no direct path from completing one test to taking another - and one has to enter his or her demographic data every time. This is needless labor.
Other Issues and Comments:
Although the tests on this site are conceptually well-designed and well-researched, the site is not without controversy, including legitimate questions about the validity of the conclusions that can be drawn from such tests. Research continues on the effectiveness of this tool for assessing implicit associations. For a good discussion of some of the controversies associated with these tests, take a look at the following article from ScienceNews: