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Implicit social cognition: a review of facial EMG and IRAP as measures of implicit attitudes.

Implicit social cognition: a review of facial EMG and IRAP as measures of implicit attitudes.

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Joseph Nestor. Originally submitted for PS317- Current Issues in Psychology at National University of Ireland Galway, with lecturer Daragh Mc Dermott in the category of Psychology
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Joseph Nestor. Originally submitted for PS317- Current Issues in Psychology at National University of Ireland Galway, with lecturer Daragh Mc Dermott in the category of Psychology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/14/2014

 
 
Abstract:Study of attitudes has been a central theme in social psychology. A move fromexplicit measures of attitudes to implicit measures has taken place with manymeasures claiming to validity assess such attitudes. This essay discusses withspecific reference to published empirical research, two measures of implicitcognition, facial EMG and the IRAP. The utility of these measures as valid andreliable means of quantifying implicit attitudes is assessed with clearconsideration of facial EMG and the IRAP as valid and reliable measures of implicit cognition.
Title: Implicit social cognition: a review of facial EMG and IRAP as measures of implicitattitudes.
 
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Attitudes can be defined as the tendency to evaluate a particular attitude object with somedegree of favour or disfavour (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). An attitude object can be anydiscriminable aspect of the physical or social environment, such as inanimate objects (bikes,books), people (teachers, the Irish), behaviour (dancing, drug taking), and even abstractideas (religion, political affiliation). Fabrigar and Petty (1999) describe the conceptualizationof attitudes as three inter-related dimensions; cognition, affect and behaviours. Attitudeshave been a prevailing variable among social psychologists when studying behaviour,especially in the form of prejudice. Measurement of attitudes has been an arduous andconflicting task varying intensely as more research has been conducted, often improvingimmensely on previous measures. Conceptualisations of attitudes from before and up to themid 20
th
century did not discriminate between the conscious and unconscious operation of attitudes (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). Vanman, Paul, Ito and Miller (1997) showed thatalthough white participants (measured by explicit measurement) showed greater likingtowards having a black partner (in a cooperation task), a racial bias was detected whenusing measures of implicit attitudes showing a bias against having a black partner. Thisdiscrepancy has drawn researchers to classify attitudes into categories of explicit andimplicit. Explicit attitudes involve participants consciously considering their evaluations of anattitude object (Dawes, 1972), which are vulnerable to limitations. These limitations greatlydecrease the reliability and validity of expressing the true attitude of the person. In theirseminal review of implicit social cognition, Greenwald and Banaji (1995, p.8) defined implicit
 
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attitudes as
introspectively unidentified (or inaccurately identified) traces of pastexperience that mediate favourable or unfavourable feeling, thought, or action towardssocial judgem
ents”.
Their power lies in the fact that they are assumed to operate in anunconscious realm, reflecting an automatic mental process (Damburn & Guimond, 2004);these mental processes are sometimes unknown to the holder but manifest as judgementsor behaviour toward a particular social group (Greenwald, Nosek, & Banaji, 2005). Due tothe unconscious nature of these attitudes the process of measurement proves problematic.Measures such as the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz,1998), the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP; Barnes-Holmes et al., 2006) andfacial electromyography (facial EMG; Vanman et al., 1997) have been developed which havebeen shown to reliably and validly assess implicit cognition. Exploring the relationship
between people’s implicit and explicit attitudes
on phenomena has allowed researchers amethod of taping into a truer reality of attitudes (Vanman, Saltz, Nathan, & Warren 2004;Vanman et al., 1997; Ensari et al., 2004).This essay will describe and critically assess the utility of the IRAP and Facial EMG astwo measures of implicit cognition, with particular attention on the validity and reliability asmeans of quantifying implicit attitudes.
Facial EMG
Consistent with Darwin’s (1872;
as cited in Dimberg, Thunberg, & Elmehed, 2000)proposition that facial expressions of emotions have a biological basis, it has been proposed
that they are controlled by particular ‘facial affect programs’.
Facial EMG is conducted byplacing two pairs of positive and negative electrode conductors on the face, followed by

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