Teresa Scherzer, PhD, MSW, Academic Programs Evaluator, Office of the Dean , School of Nursing on strategies to assess unconscious bias.

Several methods exist to assess unconscious bias, however the Implicit Association Test, or I.A.T. is perhaps the most widely studied.

Introduced in 1998, the IAT was developed as part of a project to detect implicit or unconscious bias based on several factors including race, gender, sexual orientation & national origin.

It was developed as part of Project Implicit founded by three scientists: Anthony Greenwald of the University of Washington, Mahzarin Banaji, from Harvard University, and Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia.

Project Implicit blends basic research and educational outreach in a virtual laboratory that allows users to examine one’s own hidden biases and understand stereotypes that exist below one’s conscious awareness.

The IAT measures the strength of associations between concepts (e.g., age, gender, race) and evaluations (e.g., good, bad) or stereotypes (e.g., athletic, clumsy). This is done by measuring the time to match representatives of social groups to particular attributes. The main idea is that making a response is easier and faster when closely related items share the same response key.

We would say that one has an implicit preference for straight people relative to gay people if they are faster to categorize words when Gay People and Bad share a response relative to when Gay People and Good share a response key. See the link on our webiste for more detail.

Today, millions of people around the world have taken the IAT. Currently, 14 different tests are available on the Project Implicit website and researchers have developed additional IATs for other studies.

The IAT is relatively resistant to social desirability concerns and the reliability and validity has been rigorously tested.

I invite you explore this section of our website to learn more about the IAT. I also encourage you take an IAT if you haven’t already done so!