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Toward a Meaningful Metric of Implicit Prejudice

Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 12

16 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2015  

Hart Blanton

Texas A&M University - Department of Psychology

James Jaccard

Florida International University (FIU) - Department of Psychology

Erin Strauts

University of Connecticut - Department of Psychology

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Philip Tetlock

University of Pennsylvania

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Date Written: February 2015

Abstract

The modal distribution of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) is commonly interpreted as showing high levels of implicit prejudice among Americans. These interpretations have fueled calls for changes in organizational and legal practices, but such applications are problematic because the IAT is scored on an arbitrary psychological metric. The present research was designed to make the IAT metric less arbitrary by determining the scores on IAT measures that are associated with observable racial or ethnic bias. By reexamining data from published studies, we found evidence that the IAT metric is “right biased,” such that individuals who are behaviorally neutral tend to have positive IAT scores. Current scoring conventions fail to take into account these dynamics and can lead to faulty inferences about the prevalence of implicit prejudice.

Keywords: arbitrary metrics, Implicit Association Test, implicit attitudes, prejudice, discrimination

Suggested Citation

Blanton, Hart and Jaccard, James and Strauts, Erin and Mitchell, Gregory and Tetlock, Philip, Toward a Meaningful Metric of Implicit Prejudice (February 2015). Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2564298

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

Erin Strauts

University of Connecticut - Department of Psychology ( email )

406 Babbidge Road, Unit 1020
Storrs, CT 06269-1020
United States

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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

Philip Tetlock

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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