Meissner, F., Grigutsch, L.A., Koranyi, N., Müller, F., & Rothermund, K. (2019). Predicting behavior with implicit measures: Disillusioning findings, reasonable explanations, and sophisticated solutions. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science, 10, 2483, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02483
Two decades ago, the introduction of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) sparked enthusiastic reactions. With implicit measures like the IAT, researchers hoped to finally be able to bridge the gap between self-reported attitudes on one hand and behavior on the other. Twenty years of research and several meta-analyses later, however, we have to conclude that neither the IAT nor its derivatives have fulfilled these expectations. Their predictive value for behavioral criteria is weak and their incremental validity over and above self-report measures is negligible. In our review, we present an overview of explanations for these unsatisfactory findings and delineate promising ways forward. Over the years, several reasons for the IAT’s weak predictive validity have been proposed. They point to four potentially problematic features: First, the IAT is by no means a pure measure of individual differences in associations but suffers from extraneous influences like recoding. Hence, the predictive validity of IAT-scores should not be confused with the predictive validity of associations. Second, with the IAT, we usually aim to measure evaluation (“liking”) instead of motivation (“wanting”). Yet, behavior might be determined much more often by the latter than the former. Third, the IAT focuses on measuring associations instead of propositional beliefs and thus taps into a construct that might be too unspecific to account for behavior. Finally, studies on predictive validity are often characterized by a mismatch between predictor and criterion (e.g., while behavior is highly context-specific, the IAT usually takes into account neither the situation nor the domain). Recent research, however, also revealed advances addressing each of these problems, namely (1) procedural and analytical advances to control for recoding in the IAT, (2) measurement procedures to assess implicit wanting, (3) measurement procedures to assess implicit beliefs, and (4) approaches to increase the fit between implicit measures and behavioral criteria (e.g., by incorporating contextual information). Implicit measures like the IAT hold an enormous potential. In order to allow them to fulfill this potential, however, we have to refine our understanding of these measures, and we should incorporate recent conceptual and methodological advancements. This review provides specific recommendations on how to do so.
Sherman, J.W., & Klein, S.A.W. (2021). The four deadly sins of Implicit Attitude research. Frontiers in Psychology: Personality and Social Psychology, 11, 604340, Jan., 1-9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.604340
In this article, we describe four theoretical and methodological problems that have impeded implicit attitude research and the popular understanding of its findings. The problems all revolve around assumptions made about the relationships among measures (indirect vs. versus direct), constructs (implicit vs. explicit attitudes), cognitive processes (e.g., associative vs. propositional), and features of processing (automatic vs. controlled). These assumptions have confused our understandings of exactly what we are measuring, the processes that produce implicit evaluations, the meaning of differences in implicit evaluations across people and contexts, the meaning of changes in implicit evaluations in response to intervention, and how implicit evaluations predict behavior. We describe formal modeling as one means to address these problems, and provide illustrative examples. Clarifying these issues has important implications for our understanding of who has particular implicit evaluations and why, when those evaluations are likely to be particularly problematic, how we might best try to change them, and what interventions are best suited to minimize the effects of implicit evaluations on behavior.