Can You Trust Your Instincts? The Bias Test

Training Courses

Can You Trust Your Instincts? The Bias Test

Our instincts often guide us through various decisions in life, from the mundane to the significant. But can we always trust them? Implicit biases are the unconscious attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. They are pervasive, and everyone harbors them, albeit often without realizing it. Recognizing and mitigating these biases is crucial, not only for personal growth but also for fostering inclusive and fair environments. One tool for uncovering implicit biases is the Harvard Implicit Bias Test. Let’s explore this test and others, and why it’s essential to be aware of our biases.

Understanding Implicit Bias

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases are different from explicit biases, which we’re aware of and can control. Implicit biases, on the other hand, are often hidden from our conscious mind yet can have significant implications on how we interact with the world and the people in it.

The Science Behind Implicit Bias

Implicit biases are rooted in the brain’s natural tendency to categorize information. This process is a cognitive shortcut that helps us navigate the world. However, these shortcuts can lead to prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory behaviors, even if we consciously believe in equality and fairness.

The Harvard Implicit Bias Test

Psychological testing material

by National Cancer Institute (

The Harvard Implicit Bias Test, also known as the Implicit Association Test (IAT), is designed to detect the strength of a person’s subconscious association between mental representations of objects (concepts) in memory. Developed by psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia, and the University of Washington, it has become a widely used tool for measuring implicit biases.

How Does the IAT Work?

The IAT measures biases by asking test-takers to quickly sort words and images into categories. For example, the test might ask you to associate positive or negative words with either young or old people. The speed at which you make these associations is believed to reveal your implicit preferences.

Implicit Bias Test Printable and PDF Options

While the online version of the Harvard Implicit Bias Test is the most well-known, there are printable and PDF versions available for various settings, such as classrooms or workshops. These versions often involve different types of exercises designed to reveal implicit biases in a group setting.

Accessibility of Printable Tests

Printable and PDF versions of bias tests make the tools more accessible, especially in environments where computers or internet access may be limited. These tests can be particularly useful for educators or facilitators who wish to engage their audience in discussions about bias and discrimination.

Bias Detection: Why It Matters

Detecting bias is the first step toward addressing and reducing it. Unchecked biases can lead to a multitude of issues, including discrimination in hiring, unequal healthcare, and unfair judicial outcomes.

The Impact of Implicit Bias

Implicit bias can have far-reaching effects on individuals and society. In the workplace, it can influence decisions about who gets hired or promoted. In schools, it can affect teacher expectations and student performance. And in everyday interactions, it can shape how we perceive and treat people from different backgrounds.

The Benefits of Bias Awareness

By becoming aware of our biases, we can work to counteract them. This can lead to more equitable and inclusive behaviors, both on an individual level and within institutions. For example, companies that address implicit bias can create a more diverse and productive workforce.

How to Take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test

Computer screen displaying test instructions

by Andras Vas (

To take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test online, you can visit the Project Implicit website. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step-by-Step Guide to the IAT

  1. Go to the Project Implicit website.
  2. Click on the “Take a Test” button.
  3. Read the preliminary information and give consent.
  4. Choose the bias test you wish to take (e.g., race, gender, age).
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the test.

Interpreting Your Results

After completing the test, you will receive a result that indicates your level of implicit bias. It’s important to understand that these results are not definitive and should be used as a starting point for self-reflection and further learning.

Addressing and Reducing Implicit Bias

Once you’ve identified your implicit biases, there are steps you can take to address them. Education, exposure to diverse groups, and mindfulness practices are among the strategies that can help reduce the impact of implicit biases.

Strategies to Mitigate Bias

  • Education: Learning about the origins and consequences of bias can help you recognize and challenge your own prejudices.
  • Diverse Experiences: Seeking out and embracing experiences with diverse groups of people can help break down stereotypes.
  • Mindfulness: Being mindful of your thoughts and actions can help you interrupt biased patterns of thinking before they influence behavior.

Moving Forward with Awareness

Implicit biases are a part of the human condition, but they don’t have to dictate our actions. By using tools like the Harvard Implicit Bias Test and implementing strategies to mitigate bias, we can work towards a more conscious and fair-minded approach to our interactions with others.


The journey to understanding and overcoming our own biases is ongoing. Whether you’re taking the Harvard Implicit Bias Test, exploring printable resources, or engaging in personal reflection, the key is to remain open to learning about yourself and the world around you. Recognizing the role of implicit bias is the first step in creating a more inclusive society, where decisions are made based on conscious thought rather than unconscious prejudice.

Trust in your instincts is essential, but so is the recognition that they can be flawed. Bias tests like the IAT offer a mirror to our subconscious, providing insights that can lead to significant personal and societal growth. Take the test, reflect on your results, and commit to the continual work of being mindful and fair in your daily life.

Reflective thinking

by kevin turcios (