Thursday, August 24, 2006

Snap judgements

Arguing with the man in my life is a habit we're both trying to kick. The other day we were talking about the way you appraise someone within a second of meeting them and decide subconsciously or otherwise whether you like them or not. Now, he said this is an animal instinct and unchangeable. I don't know if he still thinks this because I haven't brought it up again in case we argue which we're trying not to do.

I believe that our "snap" judgements are firmly rooted in the prejudices that are instilled in us through socialisation. Personally, I am somewhat lacking in animal instinct; I can't smell an arsehole when he walks in the room. (Although I might think he's an arsehole if he smells.) I remember once meeting a woman who I assumed immediately was unintelligent because of the way she spoke and her hoop earrings. When she started talking about the degree she was doing at Cambridge University I felt a bit ashamed of myself.

When I was very little, my dad was driving the family to some evangelical worship thingammy-jig in London and we drove through Brixton. I think I had only seen one black person before and suddenly everyone was black. I asked my dad why this was and although I can't remember exactly what he said, he started taking the piss out of their accents. Even though I was young, I knew that taking the piss meant feeling superior. I learnt that we were superior to black people. Without realising it, as I became older these feelings were affirmed by unfair representation of black people in the news and mainstream media.

I was unaware that my snap judgements on seeing people of colour were negative - I'm not racist, blah blah blah, I'm lovely me - until I took the race test here .

I took that test a few weeks ago and the results indicated I had a strong preference for white over black. More recently I took it again and it indicated a slight preference. I don't know if this is whether I've been thinking about things or whether the test results are variable.

I believe we can change our first impressions of people, by analysing ourselves and our deep-rooted prejudice, acknowledging the roles that parents, friends and the media have had in creating and reinforcing our attitudes. I still have feelings of superiority over women with hoop earrings and "common" accents but I'm working on it. Perhaps I'll join some fellow bloggers with a post on class on September 4th.

(Disclaimer: Some scientists dispute the validity of the Implicit Association Tests. But they made me think, which can only be a good thing.)


Blogger asdgasdfaserwe said...

I just took the test and got the result 'moderate automatic preference for Black compared to White'. I think those sort of tests are too limited to mean much, but, as you said, they can be good for making people think about the judgements they make.

12:26 PM  

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