The Cultural Context of Cognition: What the Implicit Association Test Tells Us About How Culture Works

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Abstract

This article employs evidence from a literature within social psychology on the malleability of scores on the Implicit Association Test (IAT), a measure that is widely used to assess implicit attitudes, and other implicit cognition measures, to provide a theoretical framework for incorporating implicit processes into sociological accounts of culture. Studies from this literature demonstrate the fundamentally contextual and interactional nature of implicit cognition; that is, how the cultural environment shapes the activation of cognitive associations. Understanding how culture works to influence behavior requires attention to the interaction between the cultural environment-including symbols and media, place, situations, and networks-and cognitive representations. Using this theoretical framework, I discuss how evidence from the sociology of culture regarding the nature of this cultural environment can inform our understanding of culture in action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-143
Number of pages23
JournalSociological Forum
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • Behavior
  • Cognition
  • Culture
  • Environment
  • Situational cues
  • The individual

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