Blog - the bodhi
IATs - Implicit Association Tests – the future

  • As the world converges technologically, it diverges ideologically. Underlined differences cutting across different strata of the society have never been more commonplace. Today we are witnessing a culmination of all the vices, injustice and discrimination that the earlier ages thought they had vanquished. However, skewed power games resulting in marginalization of different groups of people pervade our day-to-day living, common to all frontiers.

    Being ubiquitous as it is, it is foolhardy to think that our workplace would exist in an isolation bubble – free of such contamination. In fact, the selective proclivity resulting in distinctions is far deep-rooted in organizations disguised under the garb of education and sophisticated qualifications. Thus, when an organization is advocating egalitarianism, it is important to ascertain the extent to which it is being adopted. Instituting policies and integrating compulsive diversity may not be the solution because the negative affectation cannot be observed at the surface level.

    "Still waters run deep". The adage is significant to understand that human proclivity and propensity towards objects and people is buried deep within and is not rationally guided . Additionally, most of our thoughts are not accessible to us. A good number of strong attitudes and stereotypical behaviour we manifest is often the result of our unconscious. We thus are the product of both conscious and unconscious. Most of our conscious attitudes and behaviour have been studied for over a century yielding bulks of measurement techniques that provide an acceptable range of normal behaviour and typical attitudes. And most of these techniques have been used extensively to mark appropriateness and set standard in the organizations.

    The long-standing tradition of using these tests to measure conscious attitude and behaviour is not without fault lines, oblivious to many. With generations becoming smarter, more intelligent, the ability to discern and easily manipulate the answers as per acceptable limits defeats the very purpose for which such tests were instituted in the first place. Our conscious actions are under our direct control and we can choose to agree and disagree, selectively and astutely. This awareness heralds the beginning of a situation fraught with dishonesty and cohort compliance. In order to transcend this quagmire resulting from such testing mechanisms, it becomes imperative to map and understand the attitude and behaviour occurring at a level that is beyond our conscious realm.

    The new-age test that focuses on measuring the unconscious attitudes has arrived: Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT developed by learned scholars in the field of psychology purports to measure the attitudes operating at the unconscious level. At a broad level, the test uses the temporal parameter to elicit response from respondents – the response time for every question being just one second. The time constraint applied to answering ensures that the conscious part of the brain does not get activated. The next important facet of the test involves favourable/unfavourable assessment of word associations. Plaintively, our immediate reaction towards words/objects/visuals tends to be without much rational thought. It is often described as being instinctive and a true reflection of our cognition and affectation leading to behaviour.

    The IAT has been used to gauge the preference of respondents towards dichotomous categories such as: gender-male/female, race-black/white, physiology-fat/thin etc to name a few. The spectacular aspect of the IAT is that it allows the creator to select the characteristics that are required to be measured ensuring unlimited flexibility. The IAT design that includes unfamiliar presentation and reduced time duration of four minutes helps to measure the respondents’ attitude without their awareness or inkling. This is the most fascinating aspect of the IAT as it measures without providing any contextual familiarity.

    The IAT has been in existence since 1995( it was developed by Dr. Anthony Greenwald, University of Washington) and continues to grow in strength with increased recognition to identify pure/actual attitudes and behaviour of people within the organization to ensure a congenial work environment. It is important to underline that IAT is revolutionary and is bound to alter the paradigm of attitude and behaviour testing and finally talk about the elephant in the room!
  • July 10, 2021  by biofie content team
  • Written by biofie content team
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