Essay: Unconscious Racism in Psychology Unconsciousness

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[. . .] According to claims put forward by Blanton & Jaccard (2008), the concept of automatic racial attitudes rest on exceedingly aggressive interpretations of IATs. The IAT has been criticized for having methodological issues as it focuses on the time a participant takes to classify stimuli into categorize after being explicitly exposed to black stereotypical terms (Gawronski, 2002). While Dr. Greenwald and his colleagues conclude that scores obtain through IAT are reliable and better assess racial bias, critics have rejected the findings ore scores of the studies by re-taking and reanalyzing the test results which demonstrate inconsistency and, in some cases totally opposite of the original scores (Tierney, 2008).

To prove the influence of unambiguous exposure to stereotypical terms on the responses of IAT participants, Fazio et al., 1995 (as cited in Blanton & Jaccard, 2008) formed a method known as affective priming. This method uses stimulating race primes to analyze the level to which race-based apexes facilitate the positive or negative responses. Studies have shown that individuals identify a word quickly if they are exposed to the pinnacle of the same valence instead of a contrasting valence. Hence, every individual has a psychological tendency to be influenced by a stimuli experience in full consciousness which raises question about the legitimacy of IAT test procedure. Devine's investigation and many other similar researches that are presented as an evidence for the existence of unconscious prejudice in a common man are all based on assessing racial attitudes after participants are given bias clues. If this logic is followed, the unconscious bias in a white man can easily be activated by interaction with black man which in turn may cause them to have more negative perceptions about blacks as compared to their perception about whites.

Conclusion

Even though it is reasonable to conclude that people at times are unaware of the consequences of their attitudes, this argument alone is not sufficient to provide basis for proving that the racial attitudes of people are a result of their unconscious bias on which they are not accountable or guilty for. but, to reject the fact that all stereotypical attitudes are works of the conscious self is not feasible either. It is an established fact that unconscious bias do exist with its roots connecting to cultural and communal beliefs and perceptions, no research or assessment method has been successful in providing evidence that everyday racial actions are a result of unconscious bias. IATs and self- reporting method does not provide reliable results that could draw a line between implicit racial behavior and conscious racism. Even the slightest variation in the use of reaction time data can have significant effect on an individual's IAT score which highlights IAT's unreliability. Hence there is a strong need to develop an empirical measurement system in which the chief methodological issues highlighted above are removed.

References

Blanton, H. & Jaccard, J. (2008). Unconscious racism: A concept in pursuit of measure. The Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 34, pp. 277-97.

Delgado, R. (1997). Critical white studies. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Gawronski, B. (2002). What does the implicit association test measure? A test of the convergent and discriminant validity of prejudice-related IATs. Experimental Psychology, Vol. 49 (3), pp. 171-180.

Greenwald, a.G., Uhlmann, E.L., Poehlman, T.A. & Banaji, M.R. (2009). Understanding and using the implicit test association: III meta-analysis of predictive validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 97 (1), pp. 17-41.

Moule & Jean. (2009). Understanding unconscious bias and unintentional racism:

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