The Role of Explicit Categorization in the Implicit Association Test

Motonori Yamaguchi, GEOFFREY BEATTIE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
397 Downloads (Pure)


The present study investigated how task-irrelevant attributes of a stimulus affected responses in a
multi-attribute version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT). In Experiment 1, participants
categorized images of Black and White male and female individuals on the basis of either race or
gender. Both the race and gender of the individuals affected task performance regardless of
which attribute was currently relevant to performing the task, yielding the IAT effects on both
attributes. However, the influences of a task-irrelevant attribute depended on whether the taskrelevant attribute was categorized compatibly or incompatibly with the underlying implicit biases. These results suggest that individuals are still categorized implicitly based on taskirrelevant social attributes and that the explicit categorization required in the standard IAT has a considerable impact on implicit social biases. Experiment 2 considered a third, non-social attribute (the color of the picture frame) and reproduced task-irrelevant IAT effects and their dependence on explicit categorization. However, Experiments 3 and 4 suggested that the taskirrelevant IAT effects based on social attributes are determined by whether the task-relevant attribute is a social or non-social attribute. The results raise fundamental questions about the basic assumptions underpinning the interpretations of the results from the IAT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809 - 827
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number5
Early online date30 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Implicit association test
  • implicit attitude
  • bias modification
  • automatic processes
  • Bias modification
  • Implicit attitude
  • Automatic processes


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