“Predicting ethnic and racial discrimination: A meta-analysis of IAT criterion studies”

[Social & Methodological Psychology]

The creation of the Implicit Association Test (IAT), in 1998, sparked a new wave of theory and research focused on understanding people’s implicitly held attitudes and beliefs, and how those implicit attitudes and beliefs might affect behavior. One of most researched topics using IAT methodology is racial and ethnic discrimination. Employing the IAT, many researchers seemed to uncover implicit biases and prejudices that explicit measures, specifically because they were explicit, could not uncover. However, a new meta analysis, by Oswald et al. revealed the IAT to be a poor predictor of racial or ethnic discriminatory attitudes and behavior, and in fact no better than an explicit measure. Given these results, Oswald et al. question the construct validity of the IAT, and in turn its ability to predict actual behavior. These new findings raise significant questions about psychology and other domains widespread use and application of IAT based results, specifically with regard to racial and ethnic discrimination, and have broad implications for the legal system that has made significant use of the IAT since its inception 15 years ago.

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