Attitudinal dissociation: What does it mean?

Abstract

Many recent experiments have used parallel Implicit Association Test (IAT) and selfreport measures of attitudes. These measures are sometimes strongly correlated. However, many of these studies find apparent dissociations in the form of (a) weak correlations between the two types of measures, (b) separation of their means on scales that should coincide if they assess the same construct, or (c) differing correlations with other variables. Interpretations of these empirical patterns are of three types: single-representation — the two types of measures assess a single attitude, but under the influence of different extra-attitudinal process influences; dual-representation — the two types of measures assess distinct forms of attitudes (e.g., conscious vs. unconscious; implicit vs. explicit); and person vs. culture — a variant of the dualrepresentation view in which self-report measures reflect personal attitudes, whereas IAT measures reflect non-attitudinal cultural or semantic knowledge. Proponents sometimes interpret evidence for single versus dual constructs as evidence for single versus dual structural representations. Behavioral evidence can establish the discriminant validity of implicit and explicit attitude phenomena (dual constructs), but cannot choose among single- vs. dual-representation interpretations because the distinct constructs remain susceptible to interpretation in terms of either one or two representations. Selecting among representational accounts must therefore be based on considerations of explanatory power or parsimony.

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2009-01-28

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