Well That's Not Reassuring

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've heard about the implicit tests to see if you have bias and have taken them myself (and who'd a thunk it, but I ended up doing extremely well - apparently I love everyone the same...), but I was reading this article down at the Washington Post where it talks about a test some psychologists did a few years ago which included Asian American celebs (at the time) Connie Chung and Michael Chang, as well as British stars Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley (and I don't know if I'd consider them celebs anymore - at least not Hurley).

They found that when asked the question of who was American and who was not American the respondents had no issues saying Chung and Chang were both American and Grant and Hurley weren't.

But here's where it gets interesting and has an effect on the current political landscape:

The psychologists found that the participants, who were asked to answer quickly, were dramatically quicker to associate the American symbols with the British actors, and the foreign symbols with the Asian Americans. The results suggest that on a subconscious level people were using ethnicity as a proxy for American identity and equating whites -- even white foreigners -- with things American.
Now I know that a lot us already know this on different levels, but it's always interesting to see at least some type of data that supports this within a scientific setting.

What does it mean though?

In a lot of ways it doesn't mean anything - except that we still have a long way to go before we get to an understanding that it doesn't matter what your color - if you're American, you American.

I just hope people who don't know they have inherent bias somehow figure it out before the election.

But I know that's asking a lot.