Exposing Your Inner Socialist

mao.jpegYou’ve probably heard, or maybe even taken, the Implicit Association Test relating to racial bias. Now comes an IAT for policy, and specifically views on regulation and markets. I took the test, and was surprised to find that I’m not quite as pro-market as I thought. According to the test,

“Your IAT score is 0.24, which suggests a slight automatic preference for Regulations compared to Markets.”

At least it wasn’t a moderate preference! Anyway, this is an interesting test — if well-designed, it would seem to be another way to excavate underlying policy preferences, roughly supporting the cultural cognition project’s work. (A correlation between c.c. measures and IAT results would be neat.)

That said, I am a little unhappy with the specific measures the study uses. In particular, as you will see if you take the test, the proxies for regulation are exceedingly general – Congress, statutes, etc. — and for markets sometimes more specific – stock exchange. There are a few salient problems. First, right now might be a bad time to use “stock exchange” in a test. Why not something more innocuous and wholesome: farmers’ market; e-bay, etc.? Second, when people think about regulation, I don’t think they think about Congress: they are much more specific. I made tons of errors on the test, because I had some difficulty associating the test’s general measures with either markets or regulation. Or to put it another way, at no point could I just relax and hit the keys. I had to focus and concentrate the whole time.

(H/T: The Situationalist)

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3 Responses

  1. anon says:

    I also had to focus pretty hard.

  2. Colin C says:

    Interesting. Scored a 0.51, moderate auto pref for regs over mkts. I think this thing’s broken, or three classes with you has begun to swing me toward markets. 😉

    I made less errors, I’d guess, but would agree that the terms chosen could have been better, especially given the phrasing of the self-report ??s, which seemed to use more appropriate language.

  3. A.J. Sutter says:

    I had a .22, which puts me to the right of Dave. Right.

    I wonder how many of us have a slight or moderate automatic preference to think of the test results as normative, and reflecting deeper knowledge of us than we have of ourselves (even a teeny, weeny doubt?), rather than a tendency to think the test’s screwed up.

    Obviously the questions the test is asking are too unnuanced. E.g., why should “failure” always be “bad”? (Maybe I’m showing my inner entrepreneur, after all.) Anyway, the “E key/I key” questions are most likely just a disposable palate cleanser or brain tenderizer to warm you up for the survey, which may be the guts of the test. A problem with the survey, aside from the small number of strongly-phrased questions, is that one has to be either pro or con on every proposition; there isn’t any “it depends” option.

    But even were the IAT able to penetrate to our deepest innermost feelings, it’s comforting to know that these are paradoxical times for those with an allergy to regulation, too: the AP reports today that automakers, insurers, and subsidiaries of foreign banks, among others, are lobbying in droves to be partially nationalized. (I think we will yet come to rue the Feds’ decision not to exercise voting rights…)