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How one white man changed his implicit bias — and why it didn't last long.

Obie Pressman
Parker Miles Blohm
Obie Pressman

In the early aughts, Obie Pressman read Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink," and learned about an online test called the Implicit Association Test

The IAT, as it's known, records a person's automatic responses to words and images, and returns a result that claims to measure a person's level of implicit bias toward or against the thing measured. Gladwell took what has since become the most famous of the tests: the race test, which measures bias toward or against black and white people. Gladwell got an upleasant surprise. Despite being the son of a black mother and a white father, Gladwell got a result of "moderately biased towards white people." 

Pressman, a white man, decided that he, too, needed to take the test. But he didn't take it just once. He took it three times over the course of many years, and each time his result was wildly different — and very revealing.

In this story, Pressman tells the tale of how he went from biased toward white people to biased against white people, and back again. And what it can teach us about how our environment shapes our attitudes.

Posey Gruener is a former KNKX producer who worked on All Things Considered and Sound Effect.