What happens during an implicit test?
Implicit Reaction Time tests, or IRTs, measure an individual's attitude or beliefs towards certain concepts or topics. This is by measuring the strength of associations that the brain stores subconsciously.
For example, whenever we may think of the brand Apple, our brains will activate related associations, such as “stylish”, “creative”, or “high quality”, depending on your subconscious bias.
This all happens in a split second and on a subconscious level, but through implicit tests we can capture a more objective measure of respondents’ feelings towards brands than what we get by asking directly.
This understanding of your target audience’s feelings can make a huge difference when planning a strategy. See below what happens during the two phases of an implicit test and what that means in practice.
The first phase
The first phase of an implicit test involves the task of detecting target emotion words, such as “happy” and “sad”.
On each trial in this first phase, the word appears and the respondent has to press one key for happy words and another key for sad words. This is an easy task and respondents can do this very quickly with few errors.
The second phase
In the second phase, the task is the same, but words we call ‘primes’ show up very briefly before the target emotion words. These primes are either similar to the target word ("joy" and "happy") or a contrary word ("gloomy").
The respondent might see the word "joy" flash on the screen followed by "happy", and press a key for happy words when responding to the target. This task is performed quickly because the prime and the target word are congruent.
However, with the word "gloomy" being followed by "happy", the words are incongruent and respondents are a little slower to detect "happy" in their key press.
Even if the response is slower by only a split second, when repeated over several trials and many respondents, it’s statistically significant.
What does that mean?
If we bring this test into the commercial arena, the primes might remain the same ("joy" and "gloomy"), but the targets could be Adidas and Nike.
Respondents with a strong preference for Adidas over Nike might be quicker to respond to "joy" > Adidas than "joy" > Nike, for example.
For a real implicit response test, we can broaden the primes to reflect attributes related to brand equity, such as "trusted", "modern", "friendly", "cool" and so on.
On the other hand, the targets don’t need to be brands. We can also test the associations made with pack designs, celebrities, claims and more.
Implicit Tests measure the associations between concepts in our brains. They do this by having a first phase that works as a trial and a second one that tests the reaction time to see if we consider certain concepts congruent or incongruent with the targets.
By making the target words into brands, celebrities or even testing the associations of certain attributes with pack designs or claims, we can measure many aspects of consumer evaluation.
Split Second offers solutions with implicit testing for your Advertising campaigns, as well as many other types of tests. If you believe any of our services are what your next strategy needs, contact our experts today.