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Using the IAT to Predict Ethnic and Racial Discrimination: Small Effect Sizes of Unknown Societal Significance

34 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2015  

Frederick L. Oswald

Rice University

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Hart Blanton

Texas A&M University - Department of Psychology

James Jaccard

Florida International University (FIU) - Department of Psychology

Philip Tetlock

University of Pennsylvania

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Date Written: February 2015

Abstract

Greenwald, Banaji and Nosek (2015) present a reanalysis of the meta-analysis by Oswald, Mitchell, Blanton, Jaccard and Tetlock (2013) that examined the effect sizes of Implicit Association Tests designed to predict racial and ethnic discrimination. We discuss points of agreement and disagreement with respect to methods used to synthesize the IAT studies, and we correct an error by Greenwald et al. that obscures a key contribution of our meta-analysis. In the end, all of the meta-analyses converge on the conclusion that, across diverse methods of coding and analyzing the data, IAT scores are not good predictors of ethnic or racial discrimination and explain, at most, small fractions of the variance in discriminatory behavior in controlled laboratory settings. The thought experiments presented by Greenwald et al. go well beyond the lab to claim systematic IAT effects in noisy real-world settings, but these hypothetical exercises depend crucially on untested and arguably untenable assumptions.

Suggested Citation

Oswald, Frederick L. and Mitchell, Gregory and Blanton, Hart and Jaccard, James and Tetlock, Philip, Using the IAT to Predict Ethnic and Racial Discrimination: Small Effect Sizes of Unknown Societal Significance (February 2015). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2564290 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2564290

Frederick L. Oswald

Rice University ( email )

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-243-4088 (Phone)

Hart Blanton

Texas A&M University - Department of Psychology ( email )

College Station, TX 77843-4235
United States

James Jaccard

Florida International University (FIU) - Department of Psychology ( email )

Miami, FL
United States

Philip Tetlock

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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