Gregory Mitchell

Toward a Meaningful Metric of Implicit Prejudice

CO-AUTHORS Hart Blanton, James Jaccard, Erin Strauts, and Philip Tetlock
Journal of Applied Psychology

UVA Law Faculty Affiliations


The modal distribution of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) is commonly interpreted as showing high levels of implicit prejudice among Americans. These interpretations have fueled calls for changes in organizational and legal practices, but such applications are problematic because the IAT is scored on an arbitrary psychological metric. The present research was designed to make the IAT metric less arbitrary by determining the scores on IAT measures that are associated with observable racial or ethnic bias. By reexamining data from published studies, we found evidence that the IAT metric is “right biased,” such that individuals who are behaviorally neutral tend to have positive IAT scores. Current scoring conventions fail to take into account these dynamics and can lead to faulty inferences about the prevalence of implicit prejudice.


Hart Blanton et al., Toward a Meaningful Metric of Implicit Prejudice, 100 Journal of Applied Psychology 1468–1481 (2015).

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