The IAT Is Dead, Long Live the IAT: Context-Sensitive Measures of Implicit Attitudes Are Indispensable to Social and Political Psychology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The implicit association test (IAT) is one of several measures of implicit attitudes, but it has attracted especially intense criticism. Some methodological objections are valid, but they are damning only if one accepts false analogies between the IAT and measures of intellectual aptitude, clinical diagnosis, or physical height. Other objections are predicated on misconceptions of the nature of attitudes (which are context-sensitive and reflect personal and cultural forces) or the naive assumption that people cannot be biased against their own group. Other criticisms are ideological, pertaining to questions of moral and political value, such as whether it is good to have fewer pro-White/anti-Black implicit attitudes and to provide respondents with feedback about their implicit attitudes. Implicit-attitude measures have been extremely useful in predicting voting and other political behavior. An indirect, unobtrusive, context-sensitive measure of attitudes is far more useful to social and political psychologists than an IQ test or clinical “diagnosis” would be, insofar as it reflects a dynamic Lewinian conception of the “person in the situation”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

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Social Psychology
Aptitude
Politics
Psychology

Keywords

  • attitudes
  • bias
  • IAT
  • implicit social cognition
  • prejudice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

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title = "The IAT Is Dead, Long Live the IAT: Context-Sensitive Measures of Implicit Attitudes Are Indispensable to Social and Political Psychology",
abstract = "The implicit association test (IAT) is one of several measures of implicit attitudes, but it has attracted especially intense criticism. Some methodological objections are valid, but they are damning only if one accepts false analogies between the IAT and measures of intellectual aptitude, clinical diagnosis, or physical height. Other objections are predicated on misconceptions of the nature of attitudes (which are context-sensitive and reflect personal and cultural forces) or the naive assumption that people cannot be biased against their own group. Other criticisms are ideological, pertaining to questions of moral and political value, such as whether it is good to have fewer pro-White/anti-Black implicit attitudes and to provide respondents with feedback about their implicit attitudes. Implicit-attitude measures have been extremely useful in predicting voting and other political behavior. An indirect, unobtrusive, context-sensitive measure of attitudes is far more useful to social and political psychologists than an IQ test or clinical “diagnosis” would be, insofar as it reflects a dynamic Lewinian conception of the “person in the situation”.",
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