Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

The Expansion of Human Knowledge Needs You!

Posted by Possum Comitatus on September 6, 2008

Andrew Leigh and his partner in investigative crime Alison Booth are currently doing some research on racial attitudes in Australia. They’ve developed this really spiffy online implicit association test and they need people to go and have a play with it.

It really is spiffy – all you need is two fingers to take the test and a spare 5 minutes. Having just done it myself, and thinking about the timing issues involved in the test framework, the results will be fascinating when they’re finalised.

So hop to it – Andrew, Alison and the expansion of human knowledge need you to click this link pronto and do your bit for furthering social science research in this country. Because if you won’t, who will? :mrgreen:


20 Responses to “The Expansion of Human Knowledge Needs You!”

  1. EconoMan said

    How’d you go Poss?

    I got ‘little or no’. Go me

  2. Possum Comitatus said

    Same – but I’m not a very good respondent type for IAT’s (and for that matter, you probably aren’t either Eco!). About 4 questions in I felt my brain engaging into it’s pattern recognition mode, and the exercise was unavoidably dominated by my brain sorting responses according to pattern rather than according to the words themselves, even when the bins of the pattern changed.

    It would be interesting to see if people with strong mathematics and statistics backgrounds score differently in IAT’s compared to the broader population. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if that was the case.

    When Andrew finalises the data, it will be fascinating to see the magnitude of the additional average response time between the second last and last patterns.

  3. PB said

    I got moderate preference for Anglo-Saxon. Not fazed by that, but I think there is a problem with the way the test runs. I spent the first half trying to get the hang of it. Might be better to have good/bad alternating more frequently. Once I got used to it – about the time Anglo became good and Chinese bad, I didn’t look at the left/right at all. Chinese names one finger, Anglo the other.

  4. imacca said

    Yup, did this and quite quickly felt that i fell into a pattern recognition mode and then my responses came faster. Since the intructions say to do it fast i really dont fell there was any thinking about the words going on.

  5. Stig said

    I agree with PB. I spent the first half working out how to respond to the patterns, so responses were much faster for the second half. This gave me moderate preference for Anglo names. I don’t believe this is true for me and think that the result is due to bias resulting from the methodology, but am open-minded about subconscious associations.

    Thanks for the heads-up on this, BTW…

  6. Like everyone here, I had to get the hang of things first, and then responses were quicker for the final quarter (Italian/Good versus Anglo-Saxon/Bad). That might have biased things towards “Little or None”.

    The thing that confused me was having “Amy Murphy” (a sample name) as Anglo-Saxon. Wouldn’t they be Irish?

  7. Toby Ziegler said

    I got a moderate preference for Anglo-Saxon. My speed picked up until the point at which Anglos and Bad were grouped together, at which point I noticeably slowed down, and probably made more errors as well.

    I’d like to think I’m not racist. But whilst I’m a Green’s voter living in the inner north of Melbourne I have to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of my friends are of Anglo-Saxon extraction, and that much of my exposure via the media to people of Middle Eastern background is in the context of alleged crime, terror, etc

    It would be nice to chalk up my result to some sort of methodological failure, but I suspect the reality was simply that my underlying biases were exposed.

    Without wishing to doubt any one particular previous comment I think it is interesting that nobody has yet reported getting a pro-Middle Eastern bias (which I would expect would be proudly proclaimed by many readers of this blog, and thus be far more likely to actually inspire a reader to comment here)

  8. Jason said

    Eep! I have a “moderate automatic preference for Anglo-Saxon names compared to Italian names.” My brother-in-law, my best mate from Uni, and most of my cookbooks are Italian! Should I tell them?

  9. gusface said


  10. charles said

    Got little or none, but I followed the instructions. It would seem it’s a test to see how well you deal with sorting mixed sets.

  11. PsyPhi said

    The IAT is a somewhat misleading, and almost certainly over-rated instrument. If it has validity, it is quite weak. Unfortunately by the time its problems were seriously examined (i.e. by people other than the social psychologists who developed it and likened its importance and impact to Darwin’s)it was too late: it is simply too easy to use. Caveat emptor.

  12. KC said

    I’m not sure what it was measuring. Even though I am of Anglo origin, I was measured as having a slight preference for Italian names. What I found was that I recognised Italian names more easily as they invariably end with an i or but it took me a moment longer to recognise that a name was anglo as I had to look at the entire name not just whether it ended with an i or o.

  13. Paul said

    Those with a musical bent (ie, those who can keep a beat), will probably maintain a rhythm in answering the questions.

  14. Maria said

    Slight pro Anglo-Saxon over Chinese, but probably shouldn’t take the test when on rather strong pain killers and valium – needs better reflexes

  15. caf said

    @Toby: I got a “little to no preference for Middle-Eastern names”, if that counts.

  16. Labor Outsider said

    Like others, I hope that any inferences drawn from the study take into account the timing issues. Am I right in assuming that everyone’s tests began with good/non-anglo associated and ended with good/anglo associated? If so, the fact that some learning occurs during the test may bias the results in a way that accentuates bad associations with non-anglo cultures. I did the test twice – first time I was told that I had a moderate preference for anglo-saxon over chinese names. The second time, I was told I had a slight preference for italian over anglo-saxon names. Of course it is possible that the results reflect genuine sub-conscious (in my case at least!) preferences. But I also think it is possible that timing issues played a role.

    Possum, do you know whether there is time for Andrew to redesign the test so that the the first good/racial group assocations are themselves randomised?

    Psyphi – could you elaborate on some of the other problems with such tests?

  17. Thanks to Poss for posting, and to everyone who took the time to do the test. Alison and I really appreciate it.

    “Possum, do you know whether there is time for Andrew to redesign the test so that the the first good/racial group assocations are themselves randomised”

    LO, our programmer tells us that this is how the test presently works.

  18. jose said

    “Am I right in assuming that everyone’s tests began with good/non-anglo associated and ended with good/anglo associated?”

    nope. for the record, i did the test twice. the first time, the anglo-good association was second, and i was told i had a strong preference for anglo names. the second time, the anglo-good association was first, and i was told i had no preference.

  19. Lyn said

    I got a slight preference for Anglo over Indigenous names. I noticed going into pattern recognition and rhythm too. It took a while to stop associating names with people and start seeing them as words. While they were people their names could have been anything.

  20. David Richards said

    little or no preference – but it does seem that the comments above about it being more a sort of clerical sorting exercise are valid. I don”t think it genuinely reflects every taker’s personal biases/prejudices. Maybe for some people of a non-logical background.. but those are the sort of people you would expect to be biased/prejudiced in any case.

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