Because of our conditioning, we have implicit assumptions and biases that go with them. In other articles, I talk about construction workers and deers in the road to illustrate how we put cognitive frameworks and descriptions around situations that don’t have those frameworks and descriptions necessarily attached to them. This is because, through conditioning, we have implicit assumptions and biases. This can be uncomfortable but remember —- part of being gutsy is gaining awareness. Learning about your own implicit assumptions and biases is part of that.
In that spirit, I encourage you to take the Implicit Assumption Tests (aka IAT’s), which are a set of online tests you can take that were developed by Project Implicit at Harvard University. These tests can help you gain insight into implicit assumptions and biases you may hold.
The tests are designed to uncover implicit assumptions related to age, weight, gender, religion, ethnicity, and other areas, and they require you to choose between images on your screen. Based on your responses and timing of your responses, the results of your test will indicate if you have favorable or unfavorable biases towards one group or another.
I took these tests and found it fascinating when they said I had a bias. The IAT for Age indicated that I was biased against older people and therefore likely to devalue and underestimate their wisdom and value. While these findings made me super disappointed in myself, when I considered those results, they were probably correct. After all, the US culture idolizes youth and as you get older, your relevance seems to diminish (as opposed to cultures like Japan and Korea where elders are revered). It was probably true that in personal and professional situations, I was too quick to dismiss comments of older people and I was less likely to seek out their counsel.
So what did I do about that? Now that I know I may have this blind spot, I am extra careful in seeking input from people who are older and being more attentive so that I don’t miss something important.
Some have questioned the validity of the studies as it is obviously difficult to measure implicit assumptions and biases with an online tool. In any event, I have found this to be a useful tool in gaining insight into where I may have biases or blinders that I should remember when making decisions and interacting with others.
Part of being Gutsy means gaining awareness about yourself, your motivations, your behaviors, and your choices. This requires understanding implicit assumptions and biases, and the IAT’s can start you down that path.
… then share what you have learned about yourself from the results!