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The IAT is sensitive to the perceived accuracy of newly learned associations


David E. Huber at the Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gillman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093–0109, USA.



Three experiments tested whether the Implicit Association Test (IAT) is sensitive to the perceived accuracy of newly learned associations. In experiment 1, participants learned to associate positive or negative attributes with two novel groups. Participants in one condition were told that the attributes accurately described the groups; in a second condition, prior to learning, they were made aware that the attributes were randomly assigned to the groups. Participants were given an IAT and an explicit measure testing attitudes towards the two groups. When the participants were told that the attributes were accurate, their IAT performance and explicit measure responses indicated a preference for the more positively described group but when the attributes were known to be arbitrary, preferences were reduced according to both measures. Experiment 2 replicated these results and demonstrated that the associations were learned even in the random condition. Experiment 3 included a condition that placed “not” before each attribute, which demonstrated that people can incorporate a negative modifier into a learned association. Explicit attitudes and the IAT showed reversed preferences in this negation condition. These experiments imply that the IAT is sensitive to the perceived accuracy of learned associations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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