Implicit Association Test (IAT) is a psychological measure aimed at tapping into a person’s implicit mental attitudes towards a certain concept or issue. Greenwald, McGhee and Schwartz (1998) have led the way to the method that has now become widely used in many domains in social psychology and cognition.
The general basic IAT procedure is outlined in the 1998 paper with the following example :
which demonstrates the following 5 stages (p. 1466) :
- initial target concept discrimination.
- evaluative attribute discrimination.
- first combined task.
- reversed target-concept discrimination.
- reversed combined task.
the result is a measure that looks at the response time differences between the 3rd and the 5th stages and examines error rates between the two conditions.
One could think of many ways why this would be useful, and if you wish to play a little with the procedure and perhaps learn a thing or two about your mental associations and attitudes you can go to online projects like the Harvard Project Implicit.
Watch this next video for the IAT and racial issues:
I recently decided I’d like to play with this a bit and design my own association test, so I began looking at software options available for low-budget researchers, like myself. Turns out, there are a number of options to consider that do a fair job even in comparison to the commercial software packages.
Following are the options I found :
The FreeIAT was created to provide a free, open-source alternative to commercial software used to administered the Implicit Association Test. The FreeIAT is intended for Psychologists and others with professional training.
FLXLab is a very complex scripting software for psychology experiments. They provide rich documentation and script examples on how to design the IAT experiments :
This demo utilizes two separate scripts; make sure to run the one called master script.
The script allows you to control the order of the conditions; in order A the incongruent condition is completed before the congruent condition, while in order B the congruent condition is completed before the incongruent condition. Counterbalancing the order of the conditions allows you to control for any order effects.
There are five data files created for each participant, corresponding to three practice blocks and two experimental blocks (one for each condition). The data files ending in E1 are for the incongruent condition, and the data files ending in E2 are for the congruent condition.
The experiment is set up so that you can do your own IAT just by modifying the master script, the instruction files, and the stimuli files. You can display words, pictures or a mix as stimuli; see the file experimental1 stimuli for an example of how to set up the stimulus file to do this.
If you prefer running the IAT online for easier test administration and data collection, consider…
This is an open-source, web-based version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, Schwartz, 1998) that takes the category labels and items as input and outputs a file of all responses and response times.
[Updated 2012/01/02] Online IAT has been further developed and enhanced into WebIAT.
[Updated 2013/01/19] Just saw Winter Mason present at SPSP the new version of the project at Github. Check it out.
[Updated 2013/01/25] Winter Mason’s SPSP slides are online :
PXLab is a collection of Java classes and applications for running psychological experiments. The PXLab system allows interactive design of a wide range of experiments from all areas of psychological research. It includes a run time control system which runs experiments under highly optimized timing constraints.
[Added 2013/10/29] Seems like someone made an IAT version that fits into Qualtrics and can therefore easily run in MTurk.
[Update 2013/01/19] ScriptingRT was presented at SPSP2013.
[Update 2016/04/20] I now recommend QRTEngine for running IAT on Qualtrics.
See Update 2016/04/20 above. The old choice was:
Online IAT and PXLab would be my choice but it would require that you know a bit about running things on a server and tempering with PHP and HTML file. The guides are quite basic.
If you really know your techie stuff, you can consider the much more advanced and well documented WebExp2 Experimental Software which is a freeware package for web-based studies. I’m not a 100% sure on how to set that up with IAT but browsing through the documentation I believe it’s quite possible.
Commercial IAT software packages
If you can afford something better or don’t mind software trial periods, you can consider the following options as well :
- MediaLab (Windows-based research software)
- DirectRT (millisecond reaction time software)
- Inquisit (for high-precision psychological measures)
- WEXTOR (tool for designing lab and web experiments)
- Psychology Software Distribution (for research, teaching, and practice)
- RiddleMeThis (shareware for creating questionnaire studies)
- SurveyGizmo (commercial online survey software)
- PsyScope (Mac freeware for psychological experiments)
- Psytools (commercial software for Internet-mediated research)
- Software for Cognitive Psychology Experiments (for Macintosh computers)
- EverydayLives (iPhone application for collecting ethnographic data)
- Internet IAT – it’s a project in progress and it’s hosted on their servers, but you can sign up for the beta and hope for a quick reply.