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Topics: ACEPAmerican College of Emergency PhysiciansBiascareerDisparityDiversityEmergency DepartmentEmergency MedicineJudgmentPatient CarePractice ManagementPrejudice
ACEP Now: Vol 40 – No 02 – February 2021
April 15, 2017
The IAT does not predict behavior of racial bias whatsoever. Is credible science not important anymore? The bias here is “Bandwagon Bias”. Perhaps we should pause before jumping on board.
It’s hard to disagree with the conclusion of Fiedler and his colleagues that it is only “fair and appropriate to treat the IAT with the same scrutiny and scientific rigour as other diagnostic procedures.” If that’s true, then between Project Implicit and cutting-edge diversity trainings, the IAT has misled potentially millions of people. Over and over and over and over, the IAT, a test whose results don’t really mean anything for an individual test-taker, has induced strong emotional responses from people who are told that it is measuring something deep and important in them. This is exactly what the norms of psychology are supposed to protect test subjects against.
May 19, 2017
In my article, I never said that the IAT predicts behavior of racial bias. Much research has been done on the IAT since it was first described. Thus, the test has undergone significant scientific scrutiny and raises questions on just exactly what it measures. One school of thought is that the IAT may simply be measuring the association of positive evaluations with the “in” or majority group and negative evaluations with the “out” or minority group and that it may not be a specific attribute effect but rather the manner in which humans behave. In my article, I describe a study that suggests that in-group/out-group membership, and not nationality, was the important factor.
Too often, people are told to take the test on their own. Therein lies the potential harm—they read the results and may assume that they are prejudiced against a group. The test may also be used by diversity educators who may suggest the existence of prejudice. In this regard, I agree with Dr. Buettner that the IAT is misleading. In my article, I gave the opinion that the IAT is a tool that can be used to stimulate thought about one’s unconscious biases but should NOT be used to measure one’s “prejudices.” Having a strong preference for a certain group does not mean that one is prejudiced against another. Knowledge of this preference is useful when dealing with someone from “the other” group as it allows you to consider how your bias may affect certain behaviors and decisions. The use of the IAT needs to be done in a controlled setting that stresses the fact that it does not measure prejudice and that it should simply stimulate thought about one’s unconscious biases.
I disagree with Dr. Buettner’s statement that the IAT is a test whose results don’t really mean anything for an individual test-taker. For the individual, the results suggest a preference. This preference, when used to stimulate thought (not measure prejudice) on potential biases, can be valuable in future interpersonal interactions.
Bernard L. Lopez, MD, MS, CPE, FACEP, FAAEM
June 2, 2017
Point of Clarification: The opening sentence of my original response should read as follows: The IAT does not predict behavior OR racial bias whatsoever.
Mark F. Buettner DO, FACEP, FAAEM
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