Implicit Bias and the Election

Psychologists from San Diego State and the University of Chicago have just published an interesting study. They used a common research technique, the implicit association test, to measure whether people regarded Barack Obama and other candidates as more foreign or more American. They found that research subjects — particularly when primed to think of Senator Obama as a black candidate — subconsciously considered him less American than either Hillary Clinton, John McCain or even former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

It’s not that the participants in the study (college students at the two universities) actually believed Senator Obama to be foreign. But the implicit association test measures the way the unconscious mind works, and in following instructions to sort images rapidly, the mind of many of the participants balked at accepting a black candidate as fully American. This result mattered: The more difficulty a person had in classifying Senator Obama as American, the less likely that person was to support him.

You can read the study here.

You can also take a similar implicit association test here.

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One comment

  1. Well, the test confirmed my political beliefs. I “strongly” prefer Obama to McCain.

    However, apparently I also “moderately” prefer black people to white people. I was unaware that I had an innate preference for skin color.

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