Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #320
CE Offered: BACB
International Symposium - The Implicit Association Test (IAT) and Derived Relational Responding: Conceptual Analyses and Empirical Tools
Monday, May 29, 2006
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Maria R. Ruiz (Rollins College)
CE Instructor: Maria R. Ruiz, Ph.D.

The Implicit Association Test (I.A.T.) developed by Anthony Greenwald is said to measure unconscious cognitions that influence attitudes and preferences towards a wide range of social phenomena including race, politics and views on sexual orientation. Interestingly, the I.A.T. technique bears a striking similarity to behavioral methods of attitude and behavior assessment that rely on the concept of stimulus equivalence and derived relational responding. Our symposium provides an overview of the I.A.T and outlines its relevance to behavioral research in the social sciences. We will present a functional analytic model of the IAT in terms of derived stimulus relations and data supporting the behavioral account will be outlined.

The IAT and Derived Relational Histories as Epistemological Tools.
BRYAN T. ROCHE (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Maria R. Ruiz (Rollins College), Amanda Gavin (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: The Implicit Association Test was developed by Anthony Geenwald and colleagues (1998) for the express purpose of identifying racial prejudice. In the test a participant responds to a series of items on a computer screen that can be classified into four categories; usually two representing a concept such as race (eg black, white) and two representing an attribute (pleasant/unpleasant). Participants respond more rapidly and accurately when the concept and attribute sharing the same response key are strongly associated (white/pleasant) than when they are weakly associated (lack/pleasant). We have begun to construct a functional-analytic model of the Implicit Association Test in which the effects are construed in terms of the subjects’ fluency with verbal categories (ie. derived relations) and their degree of experience juxtaposing members of those categories. We will present data on relational verbal histories constructed in the laboratory and employing nonsense syllables, and from field studies using actual words that we assume participate in culturally driven relational histories to illustrate our model and its potential uses.
Juxtaposing Images of Children and Sexually Explicit Words: Gender and Criminal History as Predictors of the IAT Effect.
MARIA R. RUIZ (Rollins College), Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Kevin M. Miraglia (Rollins College)
Abstract: Roche, Ruiz, O’Riordan and Hand (2005) used an IAT-type procedure to examine differences in relational responding between paedophiles serving time for sex crimes against children, male criminals from the general prison population and a random sample of non incarcerated individuals (male and female) from the general population. The procedure is designed to assess participants’ fluency in associating terms related to sexuality with images of children. On one block of tasks participants are presented with rules that instruct them to press left for sexual terms and images of children and right for horrible words and images of adults. On any given trial a cartoon image of a child, a cartoon of an adult, a sexually explicit word, or a nonsexual disgusting word is presented. Thus there are four types of trials, each presented twenty times in a quasi random order. The results suggest that paedophiles make significantly more correct responses when child images and sexual terms require the same operant response. Thus the convicted paedophiles were distinguishable from the other groups using these tests. An unexpected but very interesting finding was that only the female control group responded with fewer errors when adult images –sexual words and child images -horrible words shared the same operant response. In the current study we are replicating our procedure to examine the apparent sex differences in relational responding using sexually explicit words and images of children. We will discuss the potential implications of our results.
A Derived Relations Model of the Implicit Association Test: Testing a Key Prediction.
AMANDA GAVIN (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Maria R. Ruiz (Rollins College)
Abstract: Subjects were exposed to a word-picture association training phase in which two nonsense syllables, one blue and one red, were paired with sexual and disgusting images, respectively. Subjects were then exposed to an equivalence training procedure which led to the formation of two three-member equivalence relations, each containing one of the two nonsense syllables. Subjects were then exposed to an IAT-type test consisting of red, blue, sexual, and disgusting images and a more complex IAT-type test consisting of sexual and disgusting images, and all members of the trained equivalence relations. Subjects were then exposed to a further equivalence training procedure in which one of the baseline conditional discriminations was reversed, before being re-exposed to the original IAT. Results suggested that IAT performances can be understood as relational performances, and moreover that such performances are sensitive to respondent conditioning histories, as well as both long term and short-term relational histories with the relevant stimuli.
Acquisition and Generalization of the Implicit Association Test (I.A.T.) Effect: A Replication.
CHRISTEINE M. TERRY (University of Washington), Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Maria R. Ruiz (Rollins College)
Abstract: The Implicit Association Test (I.A.T.) is hypothesized to measure unconscious attitudinal biases/preferences. Recent research on the I.A.T. using a derived stimulus relations’ model suggests that the I.A.T. does not measure unconscious attitudinal bias, but instead provides a description of the organization of the verbal relations in an individual’s verbal repertoire. Specifically, this model suggests that the I.A.T. effect is the result of an individual’s fluency with specific types of verbal relations. The current paper further investigates the use of the I.A.T. as a measure of an individual’s organization of verbal relations by reporting on an ongoing study designed to examine and replicate findings from a previous study that tested a derived stimulus relations’ model of the I.A.T. effect. The method used in both studies involved participants matching stimuli that are either equivalent or non-equivalent in a given context. The results from the previous study found participants’ performances improved across trials and generalized to another set of equivalent stimuli. These findings suggest that the I.A.T. effect is not based on unconscious attitudinal bias, but on the participant’s experience and fluency with the task. Preliminary results from the ongoing study will be discussed along with implications and extensions of the paradigm.



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