The good and the bad: Are some attribute words better than others in the Implicit Association Test?

Jordan R. Axt, Tony Y. Feng, Yoav Bar-Anan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is one of the most popular measures in psychological research. A lack of standardization across IATs has resulted in significant variability among stimuli used by researchers, including the positive and negative words used in evaluative IATs. Does the variability in attribute words in evaluative IATs produce unwanted variability in measurement quality across studies? The present work investigated the effect of evaluative stimuli across three studies using 13 IATs and over 60,000 participants. The 64 positive and negative words that we tested provided similar measurement quality. Further, measurement was satisfactory even in IATs that used only category labels as stimuli. These results suggest that common sense is probably a sufficient method for selection of evaluative stimuli in the IAT. For reasonable measurement quality, we recommend that researchers using evaluative IATs in English select words randomly from the set we tested in the present research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2512-2527
Number of pages16
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Implicit Association Test
  • Implicit attitudes
  • Reliability
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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