SennsLab: Guide to the Implicit Association Test (IAT) Template

The IAT Template in SennsLab

The IAT template is used to measure the strength of the relative association between two concepts and two series of attributes, both represented by a series of items.

During an IAT test, the participant will be asked to assign a series of attributes from two groups into two categories of stimuli.  The algorithm will look at the response time as a way of determining unconscious bias toward a particular concept, product, brand, etc. 

The IAT is an Implicit Response template.

To set up an IAT experiment:

  1. Stimuli in each block - The study consists of 7 consecutive blocks of varied duration.  Set the total number of repetitions within each block for each combination of stimuli category and attribute, between 20 (default) and 40.  Each block will alternate between combinations of categories, attributes, or both. 

  2. Stimuli in each category - This is the total number of stimuli (images or text) in each of the two stimuli categories or concepts to be evaluated (i.e. multiple pictures of two brands).  There is a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 20 stimuli.  The total number is equal for each category.

  3. Stimuli in each attribute - This is the total number of attributes set for the two attribute lists (by default, "positive" and "negative").  This is between 3 and 10, and an equal number is defined for each list.

  4. Define category stimuli - These are the two stimuli categories to be evaluated and compared.  Click in the black space next to "Category 1" and "Category 2" to name each category.  Ideally use a short, single-word name that can be easily identified.  Category 1 and 2 are compared against each other.  The IAT is always a comparative test and therefore there always must be two categories with equal number of stimuli.

  5. Upload or define stimuli - The Image 20 icon is used to define the image or text for each stimuli per category.  Ideally, stimuli should be unequivocal and uniquely defined for one category only and easily recognizable for the target audience.  If there is ambiguity in the stimulus images or text used, it will degrade the results.  Likewise, stimuli should be appropriately paired in each category.  So for example, if the first stimuli is a logo for category 1, the first stimuli in the second block should be a logo for category 2.

  6. Define Attributes - By default, the two attribute lists are labeled "Positive" for positive emotional associations, and "Negative" for negative ones.  These categories can be over-written by typing into the text box next to "Attribute 1" and "Attribute 2".  The attributes listed are recommended defaults.  Click on the Image 20 button to rename them.  Note that changing the attribute list names and labels is not validated and may complicate the analysis. 

  7. Duration - This is defined automatically by the software, and generally will be between 10-12 minutes.  Remember to pilot the test.


Note: for more information on how IAT tests work, see our blog entry here.  

For more information about implicit response tests in general, see our entry here.