implicit association test

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A test designed to measure implicit attitudes by pairing the object of the attitude with pleasant and unpleasant words. To measure implicit prejudice against black people, for example, a respondent may be presented with images of faces of black and white people interspersed with pleasant words (such as happy, peace, pleasure) and unpleasant words (such as filth, rotten, ugly). In one phase of the test, the respondent's task is to react as quickly as possible by pressing a particular key whenever a black face or an unpleasant word is presented and a different key whenever a white face or a pleasant word is presented. In a second phase, the pairings are reversed, so that the respondent has to press one key for a black face or pleasant word and a different key for a white face or an unpleasant word. A person with an unfavourable implicit attitude to black people should find the first (congruent) phase easier than the second (incongruent) phase and should therefore respond more quickly in the first, the difference between the average latencies in the two phases providing a measure of the implicit attitude. The test was developed by the US psychologist Anthony G(alt) Greenwald (born 1939) and two postgraduate students and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1998. Because it is a non-reactive and unobtrusive measure whose purpose is hidden from respondents, and because responses to it are difficult to fake, it is especially useful in assessing socially stigmatized attitudes. Also called the implicit attitude test. See also modern racism. IAT abbrev. [From Latin implicitus interwoven, from implicare to interweave, from plicare to fold]

Subjects: Psychology.

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