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Project Implicit: Harvard Study May Teach You About Yourself

In case you have not heard about Project Implicit, it is a study being done at Harvard that has the potential to teach you about yourself. You might be surprised by what you thought you knew about yourself-- but were wrong. Demonstration tests examine unconcious preferences and prejudices concerning a wide variety of social differences in our world today. The topics range from race and skin-tone to sexuality to religion to body size and provide an anonymous snapshot of how we as individuals, and as a society, associate various differences or similarities with things positive or negative.

I tested myself using the IAT concerning sexuality (homosexuality/heterosexuality) and was interested to learn that the test didn't try to measure my sexuality, but did give me an insight into my prejudice against homosexuality that was minute to the point that I am proud to own it.

According to their 'About Us' page:

Project Implicit is a Virtual Laboratory for the social and behavioral sciences designed to facilitate the research of implicit social cognition: cognitions, feelings, and evaluations that are not necessarily available to conscious awareness, conscious control, conscious intention, or self-reflection. Project Implicit comprises a network of laboratories, technicians, and research scientists at Harvard University, the University of Washington, and the University of Virginia. The project was initially launched as a demonstration website in 1998 at Yale University, and began to function fully as a research enterprise following a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health in 2003.

There are five broad objectives for Project Implicit:

  1. Develop methodological and technological innovations to advance psychological research on the Internet.
  2. Develop an interface for researchers without significant technical expertise, to use Project Implicit virtual laboratory research (VLR) tools.
  3. Provide an impetus for theoretical and methodological innovation for research on implicit social cognition.
  4. Integrate education and research missions at Project Implicit demonstration and research websites.
  5. Analyze and archive the massive databases from the demonstration websites.

The site and the study are both free, and no identifying information is collected.  So, what are you waiting for?  Go check it out and possibly learn something about yourself in the process.


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