“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.” Malcolm Gladwell, Blink
I’m reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, recommended to me by a dear friend. I’ve had the book since June and have just found the time to read it. I’m halfway through it in one day. This is a damned good book. And here’s why: we are fascinating creatures in ways that we don’t even realize. There are so many unconscious elements at play that shape who we are and how we show up in the world. Unconscious is the key word. Consciously, we may describe ourselves as non-biased toward a certain group of people but unconsciously we may actually be very biased for or against that group. I am not finished with the book yet but I believe Mr. Gladwell is advising us to trust and use our gut instinct with the caveat that we first must overcome prejudice, bias and stereotypes. In other words, hone the skill of thin-slicing (making smart decisions without a mountain of data).
To learn about yourself and your unconscious attitudes towards groups of people according to age, race, religious affiliation, gender identity, etc. Harvard has created an Implicit Association Test. You can take the test(s) here. I took three tests today and I will share my results with you.
I wanted to start out easy, in other words, I didn’t want to go straight to race; so I started with gender roles: Male, Female, Home, Career.
Hmmmm….this is interesting. Next I took the “Age” Implicit Association Test
Very interesting. My question is: are these my biases or the biases given to me by society/the media, etc? And I don’t have a good answer. The last test I took was on race (African American and European American).
All of these are speed tests meant to override your conscious thought. The idea is that if you answer quickly/automatically, that will be your truth. I think mine are dead-on, but I only took three tests. There are many more tests on many more topics. The problem arises when we get results that we don’t think accurately reflect who we are (or want the world to think we are). That’s when it gets good. There are disclaimers before you take any test on this website that basically state if you aren’t ready to shake up who you think you are/ or who you have been pretending to be, don’t take the test. Very sobering thought.