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Psychol Sci. 2012 Oct 1;23(10):1079-85. doi: 10.1177/0956797612443834. Epub 2012 Aug 15.

Combating automatic autobiographical associations: the effect of instruction and training in strategically concealing information in the autobiographical implicit association test.

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Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


One of the most heavily debated questions in implicit social cognition is the extent to which implicit measures can be voluntarily controlled. The experiment reported here is the first to employ a novel strategy for intentionally controlling performance in the autobiographical Implicit Association Test (aIAT). Specifically, when explicitly instructed to do so, participants were able to speed up their responses in the incongruent blocks of the aIAT and thus influence the outcome of the test. This effect was larger when the experimental instruction was followed by practice in speeding responses than when the instruction was given alone. A process-dissociation analysis suggested that the effect was due to reductions in the ability of participants' automatic associations to influence responses when instructions to speed up were provided. This experiment provides new insight into the potential for strategic control in the performance of implicit measures and into the interplay between automatic and controlled processes underlying performance on implicit measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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