In a computerized task developed by the University of Chicago, test takers encounter black male targets and white male targets in varied settings, some holding guns and some holding cell phones or wallets. Test takers are supposed to shoot the targets holding guns and holster their weapons for the targets without guns.

Most test takers are quicker to shoot an armed black target than an armed white target — taking an average of 741 milliseconds to shoot the black target and 802 milliseconds to shoot the white.

Participants tend to be quicker to holster their weapon when confronted with an unarmed white target (823 milliseconds) than when they see an unarmed black man (848 milliseconds).

Joshua Correll, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and the creator of the test, said it’s imperfect and is not meant to classify an individual as biased. Results can vary according to how tired or distracted the test taker is, he said.

But the test, taken more than 600,000 times since it was created two years ago, has found a pattern that indicates in general, Americans implicitly associate blacks with danger, Correll said. Black and white test takers show equivalent levels of bias, he said.

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Implicit bias tests reveal that negative attitudes toward certain groups are widespread, despite people’s efforts to break free of stereotypes.

Among people who have taken the Project Implicit tests online:

Men vs. women


associate men with career.

17% show little or no gender association with career.

16% associate women with career.

Fat vs. thin


show an automatic preference for thin people.

18% show no automatic preference.

12% show an automatic preference for fat people.

Young vs. old


show an automatic preference for young people.

14% show no automatic preference.

6% show an automatic preference for old people.

Arab-Muslim vs. others


show an automatic preference for people other than Arab-Muslims.

25% show no automatic preference.

25% show an automatic preference for Arab-Muslims over other people.

Gay vs. straight


show an automatic preference for straight people.

16% show no automatic preference.

16% show an automatic preference for gay people.

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