Automatic Associations: Personal Attitudes or Cultural Knowledge?

Eric Luis Uhlmann, T. Andrew Poehlman and Brian A. Nosek

in Ideology, Psychology, and Law

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737512
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918638 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

Automatic Associations: Personal Attitudes or Cultural Knowledge?

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People have automatic associations with a myriad of targets, from political figures to ethnic minorities. Automatic associations may constitute implicit attitudes that are related to, but distinct from explicitly endorsed attitudes. They could also represent knowledge of cultural attitudes unrelated to personal feelings, judgments, and behaviors (the culture-as-contaminant interpretation). Finally, automatic associations could reflect knowledge of cultural attitudes that influences behaviors because individuals use others’ attitudes to guide their own actions (the culture-as-norms interpretation). This chapter finds that automatic associations exhibit relationships with feelings, judgments, and behaviors supportive of the implicit attitudes view and inconsistent with both versions of the cultural knowledge view. Environmental conditioning and the cultural victimization of the target do influence automatic associations. However, such effects are inconclusive because the implicit attitudes view also expects strong environmental and cultural influences on automatic associations. Empirical criteria for resolving the “person or culture?’ debate are proposed.

Keywords: automatic associations; implicit attitudes; culture; environmental conditioning; cultural knowledge; norms

Chapter.  13228 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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