Implicit Vs Explicit Attitudes

Implicit and explicit attitudes are the levels of our attitudes that set our opinions, ideas and attitudes towards other people, objects and situations in our everyday life. Implicit attitudes are the attitudes formed in the unconscious. These attitudes exist without us knowing and are involuntarily formed.

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Explicit attitudes are the ones we can easily report on, they are formed at a conscious level and we are greatly aware of them. An example is when you meet someone new and instantly like them because they have colorful hair just like you. And an implicit attitude example would be maybe getting a weird feeling from this person with colorful hair, but not knowing exactly why.

Implicit attitudes are hard to measure since we are unaware of them. In order to measure these attitudes, we can complete an Implicit Associations Test (IAT). In the Gender-Career IAT I was asked to categorize words related to career and family with names of males and females as fast as I could. This IAT was divided in seven parts, and often the categories were combined and mixed together to see our automatic reaction between the words and its corresponding category. My results suggested a slight automatic association for male with career and female with family. Other results may include male with family and female with career, as well as different strength levels for their automatic association. According to other people’s results, the association of female with career and male with family is very minimal, meaning they were faster sorting words related to career with men than when it came to be between female and career. I believe this test was able to accurately assess my implicit attitudes, because I hold moderate ideals about women being in charge in the household. Men are usually the successful ones at work and in their career fields, and the fact that my automatic association was rated as slight, I believe has to do with me also supporting women breaking this cycle and pursuing successful careers outside of home.

To measure explicit attitudes, I completed the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory assessing explicit attitudes towards women. This test consisted of 22 questions or statements concerning men, women, their relationships and place in society, rated on a scale of 0-5 on how strongly disagree or strongly agree. The questions varied from “women should be protected and cherished by men” to “men are complete without women” each stating whether women are better than men, if women need men to succeed and so on. I received two scores from a range of 0 to 5 on Hostile Sexism and Benevolent Sexism. My Hostile Sexism score was 3.27, and Benevolent Sexism score was 3.09. My results compared to other people in the United States were higher than average, even higher than men on both HS and BS which are 2.24 and 2.30. I went ahead and compared my results with Mexico, since it’s the country I was born and raised, and noticed the gap between men’s average score and mine on both tendencies was very small, almost non-existent. Based on this comparison, this test was able to accurately assess my explicit attitudes due to the social influence of growing up in Mexico, which struggles with higher gender inequality than the United States.

I am very surprised on how my results came out. I did not expect high results on hostile sexism, especially because I am a woman. I don’t expect special treatment over men at work, but I believe women and kids should be saved first during a disaster. My attitudes are cognitively based due to my beliefs and social influence. The discrepancy between my attitudes and behaviors can only align by changing my attitudes towards sexism. Being raised in Mexico with a stay-at-home mother and a father who was always out traveling for work have a huge impact on these attitudes. Also, the people I went to school with had similar life styles and I felt that’s how households worked. This does not mean I will follow the same path, since I am in school, expecting to have a career in the future, and staying at home is not something I plan for.

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