With safety in mind

The University of Chicago offers an on-line psychological test in which you encounter a series of 100 black or white men, holding either guns or cellphones. You’re supposed to shoot the gunmen and holster your gun for the others.

Harvard has a similar battery of psychological tests online. These “implicit attitude tests” very cleverly show that a stunningly large proportion of people who honestly believe themselves to be egalitarian unconsciously associate good with white and bad with black.

The unconscious is playing a political role this year, for the evidence is overwhelming that most Americans have unconscious biases both against blacks and against women in executive roles.

Research subjects who were asked to think of a strong woman then showed less implicit bias about men and women. And students exposed to a large number of female professors also experienced a reduction in gender stereotypes.

So maybe the impact of this presidential contest won’t be measured just in national policies, but also in progress in the deepest recesses of our own minds.

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/01/07/racism.study/index.html

added 25/1/09

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