The development and expression of implicit attitudes
Implicit attitudes have recently been distinguished from explicit attitudes (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). Implicit attitudes have been characterised as introspectively unidentified (or inaccurately identified) traces of past experience that mediate favorable or unfavorable feeling, thought, or action toward social objects (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995, p8). Moreover, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the techniques used in implicit memory and learning research can be applied to research into implicit social cognition and, in particular, implicit attitudes. The aim of this thesis was to examine the cognitive functioning of implicit attitudes. In particular, the development of implicit knowledge and the relationship between implicit and explicit processes was an underlying theme. In order to address these issues, attitudes towards fictitious groups were created and assessed in a series of eight experiments. Implicit attitudes were assessed using the Implicit Association Test (IAT: Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998). Results from chapter two indicated that implicit attitudes towards novel groups could be successfully created, and that these persisted after a delay of one week. In addition, explicit attitudes developed prior to implicit attitudes towards the groups. Chapter three indicated that explicit motivation to control prejudice, or the introduction of a relatively strong attitude prior to attitude assessment, attenuated implicit attitudes towards the fictitious groups. Chapter four indicated that, while many judgements are made about objects that are singularly categorisable, it is likely that objects are categorisable by many dimensions. The results of chapter four revealed that individual components of attitudes towards multiply categorisable objects can affect our responses towards social stimuli. The results have implications for the malleability of implicit attitudes, which have previously been assumed to be fixed or infallible, and for the relationship between implicit and explicit attitudes.