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Conscious Cogn. 2006 Sep;15(3):485-99. Epub 2006 Jan 5.

Are "implicit" attitudes unconscious?

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Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, Social Science Centre, London, Canada.


A widespread assumption in recent research on attitudes is that self-reported (explicit) evaluations reflect conscious attitudes, whereas indirectly assessed (implicit) evaluations reflect unconscious attitudes. The present article reviews the available evidence regarding unconscious features of indirectly assessed "implicit" attitudes. Distinguishing between three different aspects of attitudes, we conclude that (a) people sometimes lack conscious awareness of the origin of their attitudes, but that lack of source awareness is not a distinguishing feature of indirectly assessed versus self-reported attitudes, (b) there is no evidence that people lack conscious awareness of indirectly assessed attitudes per se, and (c) there is evidence showing that, under some conditions, indirectly assessed (but not self-reported) attitudes influence other psychological processes outside of conscious awareness. Implications for the concept of "implicit attitudes" are discussed.

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