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Becoming Conscious of the Unconscious

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THE UNCONSCIOUS IN THE MODERN ERA

The extensive research of Bargh, Greenwald, Nosek and others has in recent years demonstrated the operation of automatic, unconscious (implicit) processes in daily life that heretofore were only theoretical ideas. These include unconscious motivation, implicit associations, and transference. While early theorists such as Freud and his associates were not altogether accurate in many details of their hyypotheses, empirical evidence now supports the general framework and importance of those ideas. We now know, for example, that perceptions of significant others unconsciously affect our perceptions of strangers who resemble them; that the things we do are often in service of unconscious motives; and that we sometimes have implicit associations or attitudes that differ from our conscious ones.

IAT Computer Program Download

One novel research tool used to identify unconscious associations is the Implicit Association Test (see Nosek, Greenwald, & Banaji, 2006). Using the IAT, for example, one might learn of an unconscious association between alcohol and positive feelings. This association has been linked, by the way, with actual drinking behavior (Ostafin & Palfai, 2006). A Windows computer program for performing such tests is available for downloading (see the FIAT link on this page). This Flexible Implicit Association Test (FIAT) contains some intrinsic IAT’s (such as “authority”, “anxiety”, and “self-esteem”), but is especially useful to psychologists because it can easily create and store new IAT’s to be used in experiments.

References

See the link on this page for copies of on-topic publications.

Hassin, R. R., Uleman, J. S. & Bargh, J. A. (2004). The New Unconscious (Oxford Series in Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience). Oxford University Press.

Nosek, B. A., Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. R. (2006). The Implicit Association Test at age 7: A methodological and conceptual review. In J. A. Bargh (Ed.), Social Psychology and the Unconscious: The Automaticity of Higher Mental Processes (pp. 265-292). Psychology Press.

Ostafin, B. D., & Palfai, T. P. (2006). Compelled to consume: The implicit association test and automatic alcohol motivation. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 20(3), 322-327.