An IAT result I didn't Expect

Gender: Female

Race/Ethnicity: Black and slightly mixed

Nationality: American

Sexual Orientation: Hetero

Age Group: 16

Hometown: Philadelphia Pa

Social Class: Middle Class

Religious Preference: Not really religious, but spiritual

Political Leaning: Progressive Liberal

Physical Appearance: I am tall, long hair, thin and athletic, easy to smile

Personality Characteristics: I am very shy at first, but after a while outgoing. I think I am very fun to be around. I am a little indecisive, which is a struggle I have to deal with sometimes.

Role in Life (ie. mother, father, daughter, occupation): student, daughter, sister, friend.

I am a young Black heterosexual female. I was born into a middle class family in the West Mount Airy neighborhood in Philadelphia, and have lived here my whole life. West Mount Airy, is one of the first fully integrated neighborhoods in the United States.  It is an example of a progressive neighborhood that was the focus of many sociological and anthropological studies over the past few decades.  When my mom was growing up in West Mount Airy it was very similar to how it is today, there were strong liberal populations, a vibrant Jewish synagogue, upwardly mobile Blacks and progressive Whites, (some people called them hippies).

I attend Science Leadership Academy which is a public high school in Philadelphia. Living in Philadelphia, I have been exposed to many different types of people and different types of cultures. All of this exposure has brought me to realize that someones biases are formed through the stereotypes and cultures that they have experienced. All of the different parts that make up who I am have helped me create my own perspective. Through taking a couple Implicit Association Tests(IAT), I have come to realize a couple of my own personal biases.

Admittedly, I was a little surprised at the results. When taking the sexuality IAT, it was revealed that I had a “slight automatic preference” to straight people rather than gay people. That is not the way that I view myself, or the world. I had always been around different people growing up, and to see this result puzzled me. Being straight has always been considered a “social norm” and even though in my immediate life I didn’t have people telling me that it was the right way, there is so much that I hear around me in the media that influences my opinions. I don’t consider myself to have a preference to straight people. When I thought a little deeper about this, I figured that I could have gotten this result because I am heterosexual. I know more about being heterosexual and can relate to other people that are heterosexual and I think that is why I might have responded to the heterosexual pictures faster. While that may be the reason, or one of the reasons, it was still very surprising to me because someone’s sexual preference has never been, and will never be notable to me. Obviously, I can tell when my friends, acquaintances and classmates are gay, but it has never meant anything to me. To me they were just a regular person. It is no more notable than if someone has blue eyes or brown.  My friends aren’t my ‘gay’ friends, they are just my friends, it has always been that way and will always be that way.

In class one day, we started talking about our own biases and I went over to a friend of mine.

“You went to private school and then you want to public right?”

“Yeah, I was raised in a private school, but I then transferred, I feel like I fit in with both types of people.”

“Yeah I agree, you’re like an urban girl but you’re also like a private school girl. I think that you fit in more with us and feel more comfortable with us though.”

We talked about how growing up, I went to a predominantly white Quaker school. I then went to a public school where there were people that were so much different than the people at my old private school. When I took the Race IAT, I was also a bit shocked to see that I had a slight preference to European Americans. I am friends with all different types of people who come from all different types of racial backgrounds. I was expecting to get “no preference” but that is not how it turned out. My Quaker education was really helpful in the way that I view people that are different from myself. I wouldn’t say that it is good that I have a preference for European Americans, but I would say that maybe it has helped me with my view on other people. I think that it is really common to have a preference to European Americans rather than African Americans. In the media, the white people are shown with power, and all throughout history they have been shown with power as well. As shown in Dr. Kenneth Clark’s experiment; when kids were asked to pick between an African American and an European American doll, most children picked the European American doll, even the African Americans. He did a couple different tests, and in each test, the majority of the kids picked the white doll. He asked them questions, about which looks nicer, which looked worse, When that is what we hear around us, it is easy for a person’s opinion to be changed. It isn't exactly a coincidence that my bias is like a lot of Americans. Many possible causes for this can be how people are portrayed on the internet, books, and other sources in the media. Even though my answers were not as I expected them to be, I have an understanding of why.

Through researching and taking implicit association tests, I have found out so much about myself. I was very surprised and would have never thought I would have the bias that I have. Even though I was very surprised, I can understand why I got this answer. Through this whole experience, I have begun to figure out my own personal bias.

Comments (2)

Larissa Pahomov (Teacher)
Larissa Pahomov

Avery, I'm so glad you took the risk of being uncomfortable and described your IAT results. The way you wrote this was easy to follow and made me feel like I was making the discoveries along with you!