Self-other asymmetries in the perceived validity of the Implicit Association Test

Cristina Mendonça, André Mata, Kathleen D. Vohs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is the most popular instrument in implicit social cognition, with some scholars and practitioners calling for its use in applied settings. Yet, little is known about how people perceive the test's validity as a measure of their true attitudes toward members of other groups. Four experiments manipulated the desirability of the IAT's result and whether that result referred to one's own attitudes or other people's. Results showed a self-other asymmetry, such that people perceived a desirable IAT result to be more valid when it applied to themselves than to others, whereas the opposite held for undesirable IAT results. A fifth experiment demonstrated that these self-other differences influence how people react to the idea of using the IAT as a personnel selection tool. Experiment 6 tested whether the self-other effect was driven by motivation or expectations, finding evidence for motivated reasoning. All told, the current findings suggest potential barriers to implementing the IAT in applied settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-218
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article was published Online First February 28, 2019. Cristina Mendonça and André Mata, CICPSI, Faculdade de Psicologia, Universidade de Lisboa; Kathleen D. Vohs, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. Cristina Mendonça and André Mata contributed equally to this work. This research was supported by the following grants IF/01612/2014 and PD/BD/113491/2015 from the Portuguese Science Foundation. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to André Mata, CICPSI, Faculdade de Psicologia, Universidade de Lisboa, Alameda da Universidade, 1649-013 Lisboa, Portugal. E-mail: andremata@

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Implicit Association Test
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Self-other differences
  • Attitude/ethnology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Behavior
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Perception
  • Psychological Tests
  • Racism

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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