Author Archives: Katherine Fell

IAT Response

My results for the IAT did not come as a surprise to me at all. The test that I chose to take was about religion, and had me associate words and symbols from Christianity and Judaism with positive and negative words to determine whether or not I had an automatic preference towards a certain religion. My results said that I had a strong automatic preference towards Christianity, which I figured would happen since I come from a very Catholic family. It’s no surprise that my religious upbringing would influence the way that I compare Christianity to other religions.

However, I found that the way in which the test was set up was not the best way in determining the results. In a way I kind of knew what my results would be going into the test, but the same could not be said for someone who was raised without religion, for example. The main part of the test had me first correctly associate positive adjectives with Christian words and symbols and associate negative adjectives with Jewish words and symbols. After several rounds of that and having that pattern in my mind, it was hard for me to immediately switch and switch the associations between religions and adjectives. I don’t think that I had trouble associating Jewish words and symbols with positive adjectives because I subconsciously am prejudiced against Judaism; I think I had trouble with it because I was so used to associating Christian words with positive adjectives, and my brain couldn’t break the pattern. Therefore, I think that the setup of this specific IAT could be improved upon in order to get a better understanding of people’s implicit biases in terms of religion.

The Hidden Costs of Stereotypes

Stereotypes in the United States are problematic for an endless amount of reasons, and the case of Wen Ho Lee that was referenced in the reading was only a taste of the unexplainable challenges that minorities in America continue to face, despite the steps that the country is currently making towards social tolerance and equality. A man was put in prison for months on false charges that were entirely based on his ethnicity, and was only given financial compensation years after the events occurred. Racial stereotyping is not the only form of stereotyping that continues in America, though.

Gender stereotypes are easily some of the most prevalent in our culture. It unfortunately comes as no surprise that despite the fact that there are more women working than men, there is still a significant imbalance in terms of what is expected of a woman in the home. Even though women are equally represented in the workforce, they are still expected to carry on with homemaking and men are not subjected to these same social pressures. This of course comes from the long-standing tradition and expectation that the man of the house is the sole breadwinner and the woman is left in the home to take care of the family. Even though times have changed though, these implicit biases against women are still very prominent. The research referenced in the reading, though, found that the biases were less and less prevalent when the test subjects were younger. This means that people are not born with these biases, they are taught.

In my first semester at Richmond, I did a project about the differences in toy commercials for boys and girls for my Sociology class. I found that the commercials that were catering to boys always showed the kids in action, or the message of the ad was about “saving the world” or “getting the job done.” The toys themselves were often job or action oriented; the products included tool boxes, building blocks, etc. The girls commercials on the other hand, were mostly surrounding being in the home. The products included an EasyBake oven, a Barbie Dream House, or an at home spa kit. These commercials were much more passive, and did not depict the girls being active or achieving a real goal. These differences are essential to a child’s development, and the formation of their own worldview in terms of what is expected of men and women in society. In order to combat the stereotypes that continue to be problematic, we need to teach our children that there should be no inherent difference in terms of what is expected of men and women at home and in the workforce.