MEASURING SUBCONSCIOUS ATTITUDES
Testing Implicit Associations is commonly referred to as System 1 testing because it measures non-conscious perceptions and associations people have with brands and products.
This ‘gut’ measurement differs from explicit (system 2) questioning which forms the basis of most traditional market research.
With implicit testing, participants are asked to pair two concepts together and see how the different pairings either slow down or speed up simple sorting tasks. The basis for this type of research relies upon the fact that ‘feelings’ offer a mental shortcut that draws upon information and emotion that has been ‘absorbed’ into the subconscious. This information does not exist in isolation, but rather pieces of information are connected with other pieces of information in our memory.
People generally take time to process new information and work out how they ‘feel’ about it. Over time these ‘feelings’ become increasingly automatic, allowing the individual to devote less energy into re-evaluating what is already firmly established and connected in their minds. These established connections are what we pick up on in our tests, allowing us to get a better measure of how people truly feel.
There are several variants of implicit testing but all rely in some way on measuring how long it takes for people to sort concepts and ideas. At Mindlab we have an online lab that utilises both:
- Implicit Association Tests (IATs) where people make no explicit decisions,
- Semi-implicit tests that record explicit decisions but crucially also measure the time it takes people to make these decisions.
These tests can be used to measure how negative or positive people subconsciously feel about brands as well as how strongly they associate them with different concepts. For example, is your brand more strongly associated with being friendly, trustworthy or tasty after having been shown an advert?
The monadic (between group) testing of concepts allows us to quantify how new communications affect perceptions of your brand; how positively people feel towards imagery & packaging; how implicit attitudes change as a result of advertising or marketing material; and how people subconsciously feel about your brand compared to competitor’s brands.