De-Freuding Implicit Attitudes

Edouard Machery

in Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 1

Published in print March 2016 | ISBN: 9780198713241
Published online May 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191781698 | DOI:
De-Freuding Implicit Attitudes

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Psychologists and philosophers treat implicit attitudes as automatic and unconscious mental states—a view reminiscent of Freud’s theory of unconscious desires and urges. I present a competing view about the nature of attitudes, and show that it is better supported by the empirical evidence. I argue that attitudes are not mental states at all; a fortiori, they are not unconscious and automatic mental states. Rather, they are traits—viz. multitrack dispositions to behave and cognize in valenced ways. On this view, then, there are no implicit attitudes. This characterization (“the trait picture of attitudes”) provides the best explanation of several puzzling properties found in the psychology of attitudes, such as the weak correlations between indirect measures of alleged implicit attitudes, their contextual variation, and the low predictive validity of the measures of alleged implicit attitudes.

Keywords: attitudes; automaticity; unconscious; traits; multitrack dispositions; mental states; predictive validity; contextual variation

Chapter.  11067 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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