The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about. For example, you may believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, but your automatic associations could show that you (like many others) associate men with science more than you associate women with science.
People don’t always say what’s on their minds. One reason is that they are unwilling. For example, someone might report smoking a pack of cigarettes per day because they are embarrassed to admit that they smoke two. Another reason is that they are unable. A smoker might truly believe that she smokes a pack a day, or might not keep track at all. The difference between being unwilling and unable is the difference between purposely hiding something from someone and unknowingly hiding something from yourself.
Understanding our own implicit biases and associations can help us be mindful of assumptions we may be making in our collaborative work. A key characteristic of the successful facilitative leader and ethical partner in change is the ability to be self-reflective. The Implicit Associations Tests can help us identify how we may have been acculturated to bias without even being consciously aware that we have.
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