Q270: Experiments and Models in Cognitive Science
Implicit Attitudes Test
Make a judgment of either 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 on the following scale, rating whether you prefer white people to black people, or vice versa.
I strongly prefer white people
I slightly prefer white people
I prefer white and black people equally
I slightly prefer black people
I strongly prefer black people
2. Half of the class, randomly determined, should run “Race Test 1” first and then “Race Test 2,” and the other half of the class should use the reverse order.
In each test, you will be asked to categorize faces and words. If the item belongs to Category 1, press the “1” key at the top of the keyboard. If the item belongs to Category 2, press the “2” key. Press the keys as quickly as you can without making errors.
For “Race Test 1,” black faces and positive words (such as “good”) belong to Category 1; white faces and negative words (such as “lose”) belong to Category 2.
For “Race Test 2,” black faces and negative words (such as “lose”) belong to Category 1; white faces and positive words (such as “good”) belong to Category 2.
3. When running “Generic Laboratory,” specify “Race Test 1” or “Race Test 2” as your file of trials. Set the font size to 24 and the font to Helvetica. Then give yourself about 20 practice trials by selecting “run” and then clicking in the “abort experiment” box after 20 trials have passed. When running the actual experiment, set “repetitions of trials” under the “Set up Experiment” tab to 3 so that you’ll see each of the 20 words and 20 faces 3 times each (yielding 120 trials). Respond slowly enough so that you make only few errors. When you’re done, record your response times and accuracy for the different types of items.
4. Run yourself in the other condition, giving yourself 20 practice trials first.
5. Anonymously enter your response time data on correct trials into a single row of a data table for the entire class with the following 8 columns (pos = positive words, neg = negative words):
Test1 Test1 Test1 Test1 Test2 Test2 Test2 Test2
Black pos white neg black post white neg
Also record your accuracies on another 8 columns, in the same order of conditions.
The class will eventually find average response times and accuracies for the four “Race Test 1” trials, and an average for the four “Race Test 2” trials, and run a paired T-test to see whether these two respone time (or accuracy) averages are different. You may also be curious about whether the difference between Test 1 and Test 2 are found for the individual columns. For example, other researchers have found a “other race advantage”: even though white people are better able to learn names for white faces than black faces (e.g. learn that “This face is Joe”), they are better to categorize a black face as “black” faster than they can categorize a white face as “white.” Do you find the same effect?
1. Some white person might argue, “I responded more slowly in Race Test 1 than Race Test 2, but that doesn’t mean I’m racist. It’s just that the popular media and the mainstream culture have trained me to automatically associate black people with certain negative words, including those used in the experiment. I don’t have a negative unconscious attitude toward black people. It’s just that I associate certain words with blackness due to their pairing in my environment.” Describe an experiment that would distinguish between (1) relatively slow responses on Race Test 1 because black faces are automatically associated with particular negative words, and (2) relatively slow responses on Race Test 1 because people have (unconscious) negative attitudes toward black people in general (and don’t just have particular word-to-blackness associations). In describing your experiment, be very clear about what pattern of results would indicate (1) and what pattern would indicate (2).
2. Some white person might argue, “I responded more slowly in Race Test 1 than Race Test 2, but that doesn’t mean I’m racist. My automatic response might link blackness with negative things, but I don’t act on the basis of this automatic response.” Describe an experiment that would reveal whether performance on the implicit attitude test (IAT) is related to actual acts that can be construed as racist. For this purpose, interpret “racist” to mean “discrimination against a person on the basis of their race in situations where race is not relevant.” Be clear about how you operationalize racism in your experiment, and about how you would statistically evaluate the claim for a relation between the IAT and racist acts.
3. [This is a challenging question, but can be answered in many ways]. Describe an experiment that would test whether white people have unconscious negative attitudes toward black faces using the process dissociation framework described in class and in Jacoby & Kelley (1992). By this framework, you will need to create an “exclusion” task (“Don’t make response X if you consciously know that Y”) and an “inclusion” task (“Make response X if you consciously know that Y”). The hallmark of this approach should be that white subjects make some kind of negative response when a black face is present if they are unconscious of the black face, but make a positive response if they are conscious of it. Describe the stimuli and tasks that you would use. What pattern of results in your experiment would indicate that white subjects have unconscious negative attitudes toward black faces (giving sample response percentages for exclusion and inclusion tasks will help you to be precise)?
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