Popular Test Gauges Your Racial, Gender Bias

In her work, Puhl gives presentations about stigma to doctors, professionals and educators and almost always opens up a talk with an IAT test.

"It's a very striking test to take," said Puhl. "We often have people coming up to me and say, 'I had no idea, I really want to make sure I don't want to communicate these kinds of attitudes.'"

Other academics who study other forms of discrimination in Western culture agree that IATs may be the best way to explore a subtle bias.

What Could An Unconscious Bias Look Like?

"In a society like ours, with our history and so much tension and competition in economic and racial groups, in jobs and affirmative action, and in party affiliation…it would be almost impossible to grow up without presuppositions about another group," said Richard Delgado, university professor of law at Seattle University and a expert in critical race theory.

Delgado thinks the days of prevalent overt racism are, for the large part, on the wane, but not "aversive" racism.

"Aversive racism is kind of subtle; you get a feel for it," he said. "A person is coldly correct and formal – the person often won't shake your hand or meet your glance."

In a job situation, Delgado said a person with aversive racist behavior may "break off the interview as soon as possible."

Delgado said such subtle behavior may be more difficult to expose, and more difficult for the person with the bias to recognize, which is why he believes such simple measures like an IAT could help.

"If someone accuses us, and says, 'you let something slip'… most of us won't search our souls, but get mad," said Delgado. "But if a person takes a test privately and has scientific evidence that they are a whole lot slower at associating positive attributes to a group, it might make a difference."

Despite the enlightening findings, even Nosek doesn't think an IAT is the final word on a person's bias.

"The IAT and the measures like it aren't lie detectors," said Nosek, who is white and said he himself shows a slight preference for white people over people of other races in the IAT tests.

"When I say I'm egalitarian, I'm not lying. I do feel that way," said Nosek. "Your unconscious bias and conscious self -- they both are reflecting what influences our everyday thinking and actions."

To take the test with Project Implicit, visit their Web site.

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