Explicit questioning, often known as System 2, is the basis of most traditional market research. But this testing only gets so far. The decisions people make are influenced by factors outside of their conscious awareness – so asking them questions doesn’t reveal their true responses.

Instead, we use Implicit Association Testing, known as System 1 testing, which measures non-conscious perceptions and identifies how consumers really react to brands and products.

People take time to process new information and work out how they feel about it. Over time these feelings become increasingly automatic, allowing us to devote less energy into re-evaluating what is already established and connected in our minds. It’s these established connections that we pick up on in our tests, allowing us to get a better measure of how people feel.

How does it work?

Implicit testing measures how long it takes for people to sort concepts and ideas. The three main tests we use at Mindlab are:

1. Semi-implicit Tests

Untitled design (3)This is our most commonly used association test and it is used to measure associations with brands, packaging designs, concepts and advertisements.

Participants are shown an item, such as a bottle pack-shot or a brand name, with an association word. We measure the proportion of people who say the word describes the product or brand well, and the speed of their response, which is representative of how confident they are in their decision.

This test is the most versatile as it allows us to test lots of concepts at the same time.

2. Implicit Association Tests (IATs)

Untitled design (1)This test is designed to detect the strength of a person’s automatic associations between different representations of objects or concepts in memory.

It measures how strongly people subconsciously associate two concepts (e.g. orange and Tropicana). Participants are presented with a clearly defined sorting task and we measure how quickly and accurately they sort a concept together with positive words compared to negative words. The quicker and more accurately they manage to sort two concepts together, the stronger these concepts are linked in their mind.

3. Associative Priming Tests

Untitled designAssociative priming is when two stimuli are unrelated but due to their common appearance together, one primes the other. The word “dogs” is a prime for the word “cats” as these two words often appear in phrases.

We identify these links by flashing up a word or image representing a given concept and then measuring how quickly and accurately participants are able to respond to emotive words immediately after.

All these tests can be used to measure how people subconsciously feel about products or brands and how strongly they associate them with different concepts. For example, after having seen your new advert, is your brand now more strongly associated with being friendly, trustworthy or tasty?

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