Unobtrusive Attitudes

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Beyond Fazio et al.’s (1995) intention to introduce an unobtrusive method of measuring attitudes (in their case, prejudice against African Americans), they demonstrated the problems of reactivity and conceptual confounding present in the frequently used Modern Racism Scale (MRS). Such unreliability of explicit attitude measures puts the use of self-reports in social psychological research into question. Essentially, their study aimed not so much as to demonstrate how prejudice is expressed and manifested but to provide evidence for their own method of measuring attitudes as they are automatically activated. Central to their method is the hypothesis of facilitation: Participants will assign positive or negative valences to presented adjectives at a shorter and response latency (i.e. facilitated) if the adjective’s valence is congruent to the evaluation automatically activated by the prime. People are then not asked explicitly asked about their attitudes (which is instead inferred from the pattern of facilitation), thus eliminating their tendency to choose which responses would…show more content…
She was tasked to rate the quality of the interaction with the participants. Indeed, the unobtrusive attitude measures correlated significantly with the experimenter’s interaction ratings (based on the friendliness and interest of the participant). However, such measure remains a form of self-report liable to subjective biases and rating errors. The researchers also offered no explanation as to whether the experimenter had been trained on what criteria of rating was to be used. This issue may be crucial as such ratings have been used extensively to distinguish between the unobtrusive measure and the MRS, and to attest to the former’s ability to predict actual prejudice behavior (i.e. predictive
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