How to Game the IAT

The Implicit Association Test is used to try to show people their “implicit biases.” It’s complete horseshit for many reasons, among them this one: it doesn’t differentiate between awareness of stereotypes and acceptance of them.

Here’s an example: I’m deaf. I’m proud of making my way through the world just as well as any hearing person. I am not a burden to anyone. Because I am hyper-aware of the disabled=burden stereotype, I was quick with negative words when I took the IAT disability test for the first time. My first score indicated a strong negative attitude towards disability, when my actual attitude is the precise opposite. I not only don’t feel negative about my deafness (or the disabilities of some of my closest friends), the benefits of having a different experience of the world are quite clear to me. And I wouldn’t trade them for perfect hearing, even if I could.

If this sounds like the test is creating the problem it purports to identify, congratulations! You understand it.

The test is also ridiculously unreliable (its test-retest reliability is poor, among other metrics) and should never be used for anything. Yet, in our cultural moment, it’s being discussed as if it proves and diagnoses real biases. It’s also popping up everywhere in mandatory DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) training.

So here’s how to game it, in case you need to.

You can go here to take it. You don’t have to participate in their data gathering. Just keep hitting “decline to answer” until you get to the test.

The test will have you hit e or i, and it “grades” by time, so literally all you have to do is make sure you’re slower on the “bad” stuff.

Example: on the race one, it’ll start by having you practice. Good words on e (joy, love, etc.) and Bad words on i (hate, disgust, etc.). Then white faces on one and black faces on the other. It eventually pairs them up. When black faces and bad words are paired together, you want to be slow on that, so raise that finger above the key and keep your other finger ON the key. It also helps to chant to yourself, “black bad slow” for that one. This works quite well.

By my last semester of being required to take it (four times total during college), I got perfectly Woke scores on all of them. STRONG automatic preference for Disabled people, Women in STEM, Black faces, etc. Yes, it’s this ridiculously easy to game. Go forth and keep your jobs. You’re welcome.

I’m a recent grad into a pretty dismal job market. If you’d like to support my writing more about the cultural nonsense you can send an amazon gift card to hollymathnerd at gmail.com Those help me enormously and are hugely appreciated.

Just a maths geek who likes to write sometimes.