Are We Really Open-Minded?

March 27, 2013 Katharina Lochner
Are We Really Open-Minded?

What Implicit Social Cognition Can Tell Us

Do you consider yourself to be a tolerant and open-minded person? Someone who does not judge a person before having learned a lot about this individual, someone who does not have stereotypes? Challenge your self-conception. Often there is a divergence between conscious and unconscious. Maybe you have more preconceptions than you would have thought.

Project Implicit is a network of researchers that investigates implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control that influence perception, judgment, and action. They offer a number of tests with which you can find out more about your implicit attitudes. One of them is the Implicit Association Test (IAT). There is a demo version of it available on the Project Implicit Homepage. With this test, you can challenge some of your beliefs. According to their authors, the tests for example often reveal that…

  • we prefer thin people over obese people.
  • we link women to family and men to career.
  • we prefer young over old people.

How does the test work? It asks you to pair two concepts (e.g. woman and career) and give a certain response (e.g. press a certain key). If the concepts are closely related for you, your response will be quicker than if they are far apart in your belief system. Thus, from the speed of your response it can be inferred how closely related the presented concepts are to you. This can be done with many concepts. Women vs. men and family vs. career is just one example.

So, are you really as open-minded as you would like to be?

About the Author

Katharina Lochner

Dr Katharina Lochner is the former research director for the cut-e Group which was acquired by Aon in 2017. Katharina is now a researcher and lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Europe in Iserlohn, Germany. In her role at cut-e, she applied the research in organizational and work psychology to real-world assessment practice. She has a strong expertise in the construction and evaluation of online psychometric tools.

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