With the whole Imus brewhaha still making mountains out of molehills, Dateline NBC revisited a study they reported on a couple years back. In the study, subjects were shown a series of words (positive and negative) and told to click on one of two keys corresponding with GOOD or BAD. Next, they were show a series of faces (black and white) and told to click on one of two keys corresponding with African American or European American. The test continued by placing BAD on the same side and African Americans and GOOD alongside the European American. Now, the words and pictures flashed and the subjects were to click right or left as they came up. The final step was to combine BAD with the European American and GOOD with the African Americans. The test creators claimed that the number of mistakes you make at this point suggests varying degrees of preference for one race over another.

Hmmm… the first three rounds train you to do one thing and then when they change the rules suddenly your mistakes are supposed to be a window to your REAL feelings about other races. It is my contention, that although I took the test and scored right in the middle (ie. NO automatic preference for Black or White people,) I would have made the same number of mistakes when the tables were turned had the BAD and GOOD been replaced with RED and GREEN. It was the conditioning that was crosswired, not some deep-seated feelings that African Americans are more RED or European Americans are more GREEN.

The researchers (from Harvard) claim that the test passes scientific scrutiny, but one of my major courses of study in college was psychology, and I have to think that it is not so clear.

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