Theory is constrained by the quality and versatility of measurement tools. As such, the development of techniques for measurement is critical to the successful development of theory. This paper presents a technique — the Go/No-go Association Task (GNAT) — that joins a family of existing techniques for measuring implicit social cognition generally, with a focus on attitude (evaluation). To expand the measurement potential supplied by its closest cousin, the Implicit Association Test (IAT), the GNAT can be used to examine automatic social cognition toward a single target category. That is, the GNAT obtains a measure of implicit social cognition without requiring the direct involvement of complementary or contrasting objects. Also, by implementing a response deadline in the procedure, this version of the GNAT trades off response latency for sensitivity as the dependent variable measure. We illustrate the technique through a series of experiments (1–5) using simple attitude objects (bugs and fruit). In Experiment 6, the GNAT is used to investigate attitudes toward race (black and white) and gender (male and female). To explore the theoretical leverage offered by this tool, Experiment 6 puts to test a recurring question concerning automatic in-group favoritism versus out-group derogation. Results demonstrate the dual presence of both out-group derogation (e.g., negativity toward black Americans) and in-group favoritism (positivity toward white Americans), a finding that emerges because the GNAT offers the potential for separable measures of attitude toward the two groups. Through these experiments, the GNAT is shown to be an effective tool for assessing automatic preferences as well as resolving persistent questions that require measures of individual attitude objects while maintaining the advantages of response competition tasks.
Social Cognition – Guilford Press
Published: Dec 1, 2001
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