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Implicit Association Test

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The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is an experimental methodology within the discipline of social psychology designed to measure the strength of association between mental representations of objects in memory. The IAT requires the rapid categorization of various stimulus objects, such that easier pairings (and faster responses) are interpreted as being more strongly associated in memory than more difficult pairings (slower responses).

The IAT is a tool in the development of theories of Implicit Social Cognition, a body of results that suggest that many cognitive processes that affect behavior are unconscious in nature and are inaccessible to observation by the actor. These implicit processes affect perception, influence behavior, and color interpretation of past events. To date, however, the evidence that the IAT itself predicts behavior is mixed, with some studies suggesting IAT-behavior relations and some suggesting no such relations.

The IAT has been used to measure attitudes toward objects in the environment, self-esteem, self-identity, and stereotypes. In applied settings, the IAT has been used in the domains of marketing and industrial psychology. Recently, the IAT has been used in conjunction with imaging (fMRI) studies of brain activity.

The IAT has been profiled in major media outlets (e.g. in the Washington Post) and in the popular book "Blink". The most prominent implicit association test is one that measures bias on race. Other popular tests look at gender and age bias.

There have been a few articles (e.g. in the Wall Street Journal) questioning the interpretation and application of this test.

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