Implicit Behaviour | Measure social cognition

In the 1970’s

psychologists began developing computer-based tests that measure unconscious cognition. One such test, that has since received a lot of attention, is:

Implicit Association Test (IAT)

which was used to measure social cognition or implicit intergroup attitudes, then was quickly developed to assess implicit stereotypes and self-concept.


Since then...

IAT has been predominantly used by psychologists, neuroscientists and behavioral scientists to evaluate implicit perception, attitudes, emotions that people may be unwilling or unable to report and predict people’s decisions and behavior within a given context.

The Implicit Association Test (IAT)

Requires subjects to rapidly sort stimuli in varying pairs, while being primed first with an attribute (e.g. easy vs difficult) or an image (e.g. logo), with the time it takes to complete the pairings and the errors made during the process, reflecting the strength of the underlying association between the different classes of stimuli and the primers.

See how IAT works by watching the video on the left side or…

As such, a quicker response time indicates a stronger association between a concept and evaluations, a slower response time indicates the opposite.

At Buyer Brain...

we’ve adapted this tool

To accommodate the scope of our research while still applying the valid IAT methodology that researchers have used, whether we measured friction at the level of processes or touchpoints throughout the customer journey (cognitive level and emotional impact).

We also measure the relevance or importance of certain types of loyalty programs, credibility or trustworthiness that certain brands or companies inspire to their customers, or to understand the extent to which certain professional attributes characterize employees.

What about declarative research?

Declarative insights

In some of our studies we’ve also introduced a declarative counterpart – a traditional survey – with which we would measure the same variables and concepts as with IAT, with the purpose of comparing results and filling in the gaps. What we’ve found is that the two tools are best used together because they complement each other’s insights.

How declarative works?

Maybe the easiest way of understanding this is if you imagine that the declarative survey helps us paint a good picture of what people are consciously processing and can share, while the IAT cuts out specific areas of that picture and colors them distinctly, reveling their deeper, implicit meaning that is stored at the unconscious level.

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