Judgment Comes In Pairs

Over the past few years, a number of psychologists have begun to look more closely at the role these kinds of unconscious – or, as they like to call them, implicit – associations play in our beliefs and behavior, and much of their work has focused on a very fascinating tool called the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT was devised by Anthony G. Greenwald, Mahzarin Banaji, and Brian Nosek, and it a based on a seemingly obvious – but nonetheless quite profound – observation. We make connections much more quickly between pairs of ideas that are already related in our minds than we do pairs of ideas that are unfamiliar to us. What does this mean?

Let me give you an example. Below is a list of words. Take a pencil or pen and assign each name to the category to which it belongs by putting a check mark either to the left or to the right of the word. You can also do it by tapping your finger in the appropriate column. Do it as quickly as you can. Don’t skip over words. And don’t worry if you make mistakes.

Male                                                                                                                                                                                                             Female

John

Bob

Amy

Holly

Joan

Derek

Peggy

Jason

Lisa

Matt

Sarah

That was easy right? And the reason that was easy is that when we read of hear the name “John” or “Bob” or “Holly”, we don’t even have to think about whether it’s a masculine or feminine name. We all have a strong prior association between a first name like John and the male gender, or a name like Lisa and things female.

That was a warm up.

Now let’s complete an actual IAT. It works like the warm up, except that now I’m going to mix two entirely separate categories together. Once again, put a check mark to either the right or the left of each word, in the category to which it belongs

Male or Career                                                                                    Female or Family

Lisa

Matt

Laundry

Entrepreneur

John

Merchant

Bob

Capitalist

Holly

Joan

Home

Corporation

Siblings

Peggy

Jason

Kitchen

Housework

Parents

Sarah

Derek

My guess is that most of you found this a little harder, but that you were still pretty fast at putting the words into the right categories.

*All text referenced is taken from Blink by Malcolm Gladwell*

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s