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Do I need to establish which associations to test a priori?

The IAT, being a categorization task, requires association-specific words and/or images as its stimuli. The association of interest therefore needs to be determined before programming the study.

In many research projects, the selection of the associations that are to be measured is rather straightforward (e.g., brand identity attributes, the product category or a simple positive-negative scale). In the case of consumer insight research (e.g., a study into the subconscious motives behind a particular purchase), it’s valuable to precede the actual IAT by an exploratory study into which associations are potentially interesting.