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Implicit Bias Test

For homework this week, we're meant to take at least 2 implicit bias tests that are offered by Project Implicit at Harvard University.

I started with the implicit bias test on old and young people, and only had a slight automatic preference for old over young people, which I found surprising (I was expecting it to lean toward young people).

The test made me feel really uncomfortable, and it felt like the order of associations were planting automatic biases in my brain.


After checking in with Adnan, I took the test for skin tone and found that I have a moderate automatic preference for light skinned people over dark skinned people. I was really hoping that there would only be a slight preference, not even expecting to have no preference.

This time I really failed to read the instructions properly and jumped ahead without preparing myself for the questions.


Overall, I'm not surprised by my results but I am a little skeptical about the accuracy of the test. I wonder if there's some margin for error based on testing accuracy. How do they build in the fact that I didn't read the instructions? Oops. Do the results change if you operate quickly versus slowly? I have so many questions about the evaluation process that go beyond the actual results.

Putting that aside, I will note that I believe every human being is racist or has some sort of implicit bias. It's only natural! We are more inclined to people that seem familiar and non-threatening. Take dating preferences, for example: are we attracted to characteristics in our partners that we've experienced from our parents? Our feeble little minds have been shaped by the people around us, who in turn inform our natural implicit biases.

I'm also aware that my upbringing in New York City has an effect on my implicit bias. I've grown up around a huge variety of people and would (hopefully) have less implicit bias than someone who was raised in a homogenous place. Being Asian American in the world is also a strange experience of foreignness, especially in a time when East Asian countries are becoming increasingly technologically, economically, and politically dominant. In America I'm seen as a foreigner, in Europe I'm seen as a foreigner, and in China I'm seen as a foreigner. What gives? I'm usually not affected by this, or at least I don't take it personally. But I have been very conscious about crafting a sense of self that is independent of ethnic and cultural makeup. Even in my adult years I've taken to using my middle name as a Westernization and branding tactic, as well as labelling myself as a "New Yorker."

Labels shouldn't matter, but they help craft a sense of identity. Being devoutly anti-label is even an identity in itself. I wonder how these implicit bias tests evolve over time as society changes, or if just the results change for us over time.

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