Conceptualizing Personal and Extrapersonal Associations



We recently introduced the term ‘extrapersonal associations’ and defined them as information that is available in memory but that does not contribute to one's attitudes toward a given object (Olson & Fazio, 2004). Here, we review our conceptualization of the term, contrast it to our conceptualization of attitudes as personal associations, and briefly summarize evidence that the Implicit Association Test, as it is traditionally employed, is influenced by extrapersonal associations. We discuss recent critiques of the concept and in so doing, elaborate upon the essence of the personal versus extrapersonal distinction. We conclude with speculations on the nature of extrapersonal associations, their origins, and relationship to attitudes.