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      Predicting Behavior With Implicit Measures: Disillusioning Findings, Reasonable Explanations, and Sophisticated Solutions


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          Two decades ago, the introduction of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) sparked enthusiastic reactions. With implicit measures like the IAT, researchers hoped to finally be able to bridge the gap between self-reported attitudes on one hand and behavior on the other. Twenty years of research and several meta-analyses later, however, we have to conclude that neither the IAT nor its derivatives have fulfilled these expectations. Their predictive value for behavioral criteria is weak and their incremental validity over and above self-report measures is negligible. In our review, we present an overview of explanations for these unsatisfactory findings and delineate promising ways forward. Over the years, several reasons for the IAT’s weak predictive validity have been proposed. They point to four potentially problematic features: First, the IAT is by no means a pure measure of individual differences in associations but suffers from extraneous influences like recoding. Hence, the predictive validity of IAT-scores should not be confused with the predictive validity of associations. Second, with the IAT, we usually aim to measure evaluation (“liking”) instead of motivation (“wanting”). Yet, behavior might be determined much more often by the latter than the former. Third, the IAT focuses on measuring associations instead of propositional beliefs and thus taps into a construct that might be too unspecific to account for behavior. Finally, studies on predictive validity are often characterized by a mismatch between predictor and criterion (e.g., while behavior is highly context-specific, the IAT usually takes into account neither the situation nor the domain). Recent research, however, also revealed advances addressing each of these problems, namely (1) procedural and analytical advances to control for recoding in the IAT, (2) measurement procedures to assess implicit wanting, (3) measurement procedures to assess implicit beliefs, and (4) approaches to increase the fit between implicit measures and behavioral criteria (e.g., by incorporating contextual information). Implicit measures like the IAT hold an enormous potential. In order to allow them to fulfill this potential, however, we have to refine our understanding of these measures, and we should incorporate recent conceptual and methodological advancements. This review provides specific recommendations on how to do so.

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          Most cited references135

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          The neural basis of drug craving: an incentive-sensitization theory of addiction.

          This paper presents a biopsychological theory of drug addiction, the 'Incentive-Sensitization Theory'. The theory addresses three fundamental questions. The first is: why do addicts crave drugs? That is, what is the psychological and neurobiological basis of drug craving? The second is: why does drug craving persist even after long periods of abstinence? The third is whether 'wanting' drugs (drug craving) is attributable to 'liking' drugs (to the subjective pleasurable effects of drugs)? The theory posits the following. (1) Addictive drugs share the ability to enhance mesotelencephalic dopamine neurotransmission. (2) One psychological function of this neural system is to attribute 'incentive salience' to the perception and mental representation of events associated with activation of the system. Incentive salience is a psychological process that transforms the perception of stimuli, imbuing them with salience, making them attractive, 'wanted', incentive stimuli. (3) In some individuals the repeated use of addictive drugs produces incremental neuroadaptations in this neural system, rendering it increasingly and perhaps permanently, hypersensitive ('sensitized') to drugs and drug-associated stimuli. The sensitization of dopamine systems is gated by associative learning, which causes excessive incentive salience to be attributed to the act of drug taking and to stimuli associated with drug taking. It is specifically the sensitization of incentive salience, therefore, that transforms ordinary 'wanting' into excessive drug craving. (4) It is further proposed that sensitization of the neural systems responsible for incentive salience ('for wanting') can occur independently of changes in neural systems that mediate the subjective pleasurable effects of drugs (drug 'liking') and of neural systems that mediate withdrawal. Thus, sensitization of incentive salience can produce addictive behavior (compulsive drug seeking and drug taking) even if the expectation of drug pleasure or the aversive properties of withdrawal are diminished and even in the face of strong disincentives, including the loss of reputation, job, home and family. We review evidence for this view of addiction and discuss its implications for understanding the psychology and neurobiology of addiction.
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            On the automatic activation of attitudes.

            We hypothesized that attitudes characterized by a strong association between the attitude object and an evaluation of that object are capable of being activated from memory automatically upon mere presentation of the attitude object. We used a priming procedure to examine the extent to which the mere presentation of an attitude object would facilitate the latency with which subjects could indicate whether a subsequently presented target adjective had a positive or a negative connotation. Across three experiments, facilitation was observed on trials involving evaluatively congruent primes (attitude objects) and targets, provided that the attitude object possessed a strong evaluative association. In Experiments 1 and 2, preexperimentally strong and weak associations were identified via a measurement procedure. In Experiment 3, the strength of the object-evaluation association was manipulated. The results indicated that attitudes can be automatically activated and that the strength of the object-evaluation association determines the likelihood of such automatic activation. The implications of these findings for a variety of issues regarding attitudes--including their functional value, stability, effects on later behavior, and measurement--are discussed.
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              An inkblot for attitudes: affect misattribution as implicit measurement.

              Misattributions people make about their own affective reactions can be used to measure attitudes implicitly. Combining the logic of projective tests with advances in priming research, the affect misattribution procedure (AMP) was sensitive to normatively favorable and unfavorable evaluations (Experiments 1-4), and the misattribution effect was strong at both fast and slow presentation rates (Experiments 3 and 4). Providing further evidence of validity, the AMP was strongly related to individual differences in self-reported political attitudes and voting intentions (Experiment 5). In the socially sensitive domain of racial attitudes, the AMP showed in-group bias for Black and White participants. AMP performance correlated with explicit racial attitudes, a relationship that was moderated by motivations to control prejudice (Experiment 6). Across studies, the task was unaffected by direct warnings to avoid bias. Advantages of the AMP include large effect sizes, high reliability, ease of use, and resistance to correction attempts.

                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                08 November 2019
                : 10
                [1] 1General Psychology II, Institute of Psychology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena , Jena, Germany
                [2] 2Department for the Psychology of Human Movement and Sport, Institute for Sports Science, Friedrich Schiller University Jena , Jena, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Zheng Jin, Zhengzhou Normal University, China

                Reviewed by: Xiaoming Wang, Qufu Normal University, China; Colin Smith, University of Florida, United States

                *Correspondence: Franziska Meissner, franziska.meissner@ 123456uni-jena.de

                This article was submitted to Cognitive Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2019 Meissner, Grigutsch, Koranyi, Müller and Rothermund.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 150, Pages: 16, Words: 15750
                Funded by: KR
                Award ID: RO 1272/11-1

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                implicit measures,predictive validity,iat,attitude-behavior gap,multinomial processing tree models,wanting vs. liking,propositions vs. associations,context-dependency


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