Implicit Attitudes and Racism: Effects of Word Familiarity and Frequency on the Implicit Association Test
Greenwald, McGhee and Schwartz (1998) described a new method-the Implicit Association Test (IAT)-for unobtrusively measuring racial attitudes. This article assesses the validity of the IAT by investigating whether Greenwald et al.'s implicit racism findings resulted from two confounds present in their studies: differential familiarity and frequency of the words that comprised their target concepts. Experiment 1 produced large IAT effects when both low and high familiarity words comprised nonsocial target categories (insects and flowers) and demonstrated that the IAT is more sensitive when high familiarity exemplars form the target concepts. In Experiment 2, we obtained large implicit racism effects for both African American and Hispanic racial groups even when the familiarity and frequency of the names that comprised the racial categories were controlled and even though participants described themselves as unprejudiced. Additionally, explicit self-reports of racial attitudes were only weakly related to the IAT measures. These experiments indicate that (a) although familiarity clearly exerts an important influence on the IAT, the use of low familiarity stimuli does not eliminate the sensitivity of the IAT, (b) stimulus familiarity and frequency can not account for the implicit racism effect and (c) stimulus familiarity is an important moderating variable that can influence the sensitivity of implicit attitude measures. We discuss the results in relation to the validity of the Implicit Association Test and theories of implicit social cognition.
Arce, R. M., & Junco, M. (1995). Bebes preciosos: 5,001 Hispanic baby names. New York: Avon Books. Google Scholar Anderson, J. R., & Bower, G. H. (1973). Human associative memory. Washington, DC: Winston. Google Scholar Babycenter. (1997). First names. [online] Available at http://www.babycenter.com/babyname/names70.htm [1997, December 5]. Google Scholar Banaji, M. R., & Bhaskar, R. (2000). Implicit stereotypes and memory: The bounded rationality of social beliefs. In D. L. Schacter, E. Scarry et al. (Eds.), Memory, brain, and belief. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 139–175. Google Scholar Banaji, M. R., & Greenwald, A. G. (1994). Implicit Stereotyping and Prejudice. In M. P. Zanna & J. M. Olson (Eds.), The psychology of prejudice: The Ontario symposium (pp. 55–76). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Google Scholar Banaji, M. R., & Hardin, C. D. (1996). Automatic stereotyping. Psychological Science, 7, 136–141. Google Scholar Bargh, J. A., Chaiken, S., Govender, R., & Pratto, F. (1992). The generality of the automatic activation effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 893–912. Crossref, Google Scholar Bellezza, F. S., Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. R. (1986). Words high and low in pleasantness as rated by male and female college students. Behavior Research, Methods and Instruments, 18, 299–303. Google Scholar Carpenter, C., & Banaji, M. R. (1997). Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Midwestern Psychological Association. Chicago, IL. Cited in Banaji, M. R., & Bhaskar, R. (in press). Implicit stereotypes and memory: The bounded rationality of social beliefs. In D. L. Schacter and E. Scarry (Eds.), Belief and memory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar Chen, M., & Bargh, J. (1997). Nonconscious behavioral confirmation processes: The self-fulfilling consequences of automatic stereotype activation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 541–560. Crossref, Google Scholar Dasgupta, N., McGhee, D. E., Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. R. (2000). Automatic preference for White Americans: Eliminating the familiarity explanation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 316–328. Crossref, Google Scholar Devine, P. G. (1989). Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their automatic and controlled components. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 5–18. Crossref, Google Scholar Dillard, J. L. (1976). Black names. The Hague, the Netherlands: Mouton & Co. Google Scholar Dovidio, J. F., Evans, N., & Tyler, R. B. (1986). Racial stereotypes: The contents of their cognitive representations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 22–37. Crossref, Google Scholar Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (1997). On the nature of contemporary prejudice: The causes, consequences and challenges of aversive racism. In J. Eberhardt & S. T. Fiske (Eds.), Racism: The problem and the response. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Google Scholar Dovidio, J. F., Kawakami, K., Johnson, C., Johnson, B., Howard, A. (1997). On the nature of prejudice: Automatic and controlled processes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 510–540. Crossref, Google Scholar Dunkling, L., & Gosling, W. (1983). The facts on file dictionary of first names. New York: Facts on File Publications. Google Scholar Evans, C. K. (1992). Unusual and most popular baby names: Signet Reference. Google Scholar Faulkner, B. (1994). What to name your African-American baby: St. Martin's Paperback. Google Scholar Fazio, R. H. (1990). Multiple processes by which attitudes guide behavior: The MODE model as an integrative framework. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology. (pp. 75–109). New York: Academic Press. Google Scholar Fazio, R. H., Jackson, J. R., Dunton, B. C., & Williams, C. J. (1995). Variability in automatic activation as an unobtrusive measure of racial attitudes: A bona fide pipeline? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 1013–1027. Crossref, Google Scholar Fazio, R. H., Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Powell, M. L., & Kades, F. R. (1986). On the automatic activation of attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 229–239. Crossref, Google Scholar Fujita, F., Diener, E., & Sandvik, E. (1991). Gender differences in negative affect and well-being: The case for emotional intensity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 427–434. Crossref, Google Scholar Gaertner, S. L., & McLaughlin, J. P. (1983). Racial stereotypes: Associations and ascriptions of positive and negative characteristics. Social Psychology Quarterly, 46, 23–30. Google Scholar Gilbert, D. T., & Hixon, J. G. (1991). The trouble of thinking: Activation and application of stereotypic beliefs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 509–517. Crossref, Google Scholar Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. R. (1995). Implicit social cognition: Attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotypes. Psychological Review, 102, 4–27. Google Scholar Greenwald, A. G., & Breckler, S. J. (1985). To whom is the self presented? In B. R. Schlenter (Ed.), The self and social life, (pp. 126–146). New York: McGraw Hill. Google Scholar Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. (1998) Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The Implicit Association Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1469–1480. Crossref, Google Scholar Hayden, D., & Ottaway, S. A. (2001). When subjective familiarity and word frequency are not the same: Ratings of first names, flowers, insects, pleasant and unpleasant words. Manuscript in preparation. Google Scholar Jacoby, L. L. (1991). A process dissociation framework: Separating automatic from intentional uses of memory. Memory and Language, 30, 513–451. Google Scholar Jacoby, L. L., Kelley, C., Brown, J., & Jasechko, J. (1989) Becoming famous overnight: Limits on the ability to avoid unconscious influences of the past. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 326–338. Crossref, Google Scholar Katz, D., & Braly, K. (1933). Racial stereotypes of one-hundred college students. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 28, 280–290. Crossref, Google Scholar Klonoff, E. A., & Landrine, H. (1999). Cross-validation of the Schedule of Racist Events. Journal of Black Psychology, 25, 231–254. Crossref, Google Scholar Kruschke, J. K., (1992). ALCOVE: An exemplar-based connectionist model of category learning. Psychological Review, 99, 22–44. Google Scholar Kucera, H., & Francis, W. N. (1967). Computational analysis of present day American English. Providence, RI: Brown University Press. Google Scholar Lewicki, P. (1986). Nonconscious social information processing. New York: Academic Press. Google Scholar Massey, D. S., & Eggers, M. L. (1990). The ecology of inequality: Minorities and the concentration of poverty, 1970–1980. American Journal of Sociology, 95, 1153–1188. Crossref, Google Scholar Maxwell, S. E., & Delaney, H. D. (1990). Designing experiments and analyzing data. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing. Google Scholar McConahay, J. B., Hardee, B. B., & Batts, V. (1981). Has racism declined in America? It depends upon who is asking and what is asked. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 25, 563–579. Crossref, Google Scholar Monk, K. (1997). First names. [online] Available at http://student-www.uchicago.edu/users/smhawkin/names/hq.html. [1997, December 5] Google Scholar Neasdale, D., & Durkin, K. (1998). Stereotypes and attitudes: Implicit and explicit processes. In K. Kirsner et al. (Eds.). Implicit and explicit mental processes. (pp. 219–232). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Google Scholar Ong, P. M. (1991). Race and post-displacement earnings among high-tech workers. Industrial Relations, 30, 456–468. Google Scholar Reber, A. S. (1989). Implicit learning and tacit knowledge. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 219–235. Crossref, Google Scholar Richardson-Klavehn, A., & Bjork, R. A. (1988). Measures of memory. Annual Review of Psychology, 39, 1043–1056. Google Scholar Roediger, H. L. (1990a). Implicit memory. American Psychologist, 45, 1043–1056. Google Scholar Roediger, H. L. (1990b). Implicit memory: A commentary. Bulletin of the Psychonomics Society, 28, 373–380. Google Scholar Rosch, E. E. (1975). Cognitive representations of semantic categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104, 192–233. Crossref, Google Scholar Schacter, D. L. (1987). Implicit memory: History and current status. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 13, 501–518. Crossref, Google Scholar Shackleford, M. (1997). First names. [online]. Available at http://www.charm.net/~shack/name/babynm.html. [1997, December 5]. Google Scholar Sloman, S. A. (1996). The empirical case for two systems of reasoning. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 3–22. Google Scholar Smith, E. R., & Branscombe, N. R. (1988). Category accessibility as implicit memory. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 24, 490–504. Crossref, Google Scholar Srull, T. K., & Wyer, R. S. (1979). The role of category accessibility in the interpretation of information about persons: Some determinants and implications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1660–1672. Crossref, Google Scholar Stadler, M., & Frensch, P. (Eds.). (1997). Handbook of implicit learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Google Scholar Stearn, W. T. (1992). Stearn's dictionary of plant names for gardeners. London: Cassell. Google Scholar Sutherland, D. W. S. (1978). Common names of insects and related organisms. College Park, MD: Entomological Society of America. Google Scholar Thorndike, E. L., & Lorge, I. (1944). The teacher's word book of 30,000 words. Teacher's College, NY: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Justice. (1998). [online] Database of first names from the 1990 US census. Available at http://www.census.gov/genealogy/names/. [1998, January 7]. Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Justice. (1973). Spanish name book. (Vol. M-156): United States Department of Justice: Immigration and Naturalization Service. Google Scholar
von Hippel, W., Sekaquaptewa, D., & Vargas, P. (1997). The linguistic intergroup bias as an implicit indicator of prejudice. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 490–509. Crossref, Google Scholar Wittenbrink, B., Judd, C. M. & Park, B. (1997). Evidence for racial prejudice at the implicit level and its relationship with questionnaire measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 262–274. Crossref, Google Scholar Woods, R. D. (1984). Hispanic first names. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Google Scholar Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, Monograph Supp. No. 2, part 2. Crossref, Google Scholar