Take A Test of Political (and other) Biases

It’s much easy for our brains to process things that are congruent, that is when things make sense because they’re related to each other.

For example say the following words:

RED
BLUE
PURPLE
BROWN
YELLOW
GREEN
GRAY
ORANGE

Now try this but do NOT read the word, instead say the color of the word:

RED
BLUE
PURPLE
BROWN
YELLOW
GREEN
GRAY
ORANGE

Didn’t that take longer? This effect is called the Stroop Effect. Most of us have been trained and ingrained that reading something has priority over other ways of getting facts. So we have difficulty with this task since it doesn’t make sense to our brain to ignore the word in favor of the color of the word. This in turn leads to longer time to answer the implicit question of what’s the color. The time difference to process what makes sense to us verses what doesn’t allows us to test for biases.

Check out the following video with Alan Alda.

I saw this video in 2008 before the election and took some of their tests at the time. So when I woke up to a National Public Radio story recently entitled Are Independents Just Partisans In Disguise? I just had to try out some more of the tests. The story suggests that independent voters tend to vote with one party or the other, and thus are more difficult to court by the parties than might seem obvious.

I found out that I lean toward Democrats, really no big surprise. But that led me to think of what I call the meta issues. In this case my question was, because I’m a Democrat do I select their issues and answers, or are my issues and answers to them selecting my Democratic bias? I think the later is truer and why I think of myself as independent, because I could and have changed parties if they offered difference answers. But I realize this is tricky, far more than people think, and will talk about what we know about group identity later.

In the mean time try the test yourself at Project Implicit: Political Identity. And check out their other tests. I’ve taken a few of their other tests and find it interesting how tough it is at times to think through things I’m seeing, verses sometimes they just make sense.

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