The present work challenges the idea that implicit evaluative associations with outgroups necessarily provide information about negative or prejudiced attitudes. We argue that the manner in which one explains outgroup status and action shapes whether one's implicit “negative” associations are prejudice-based or empathy-based. Four studies are consistent with this possibility. Study 1 suggests that whereas implicit “negative” associations are predictive of negative explicit attitudes among those who reject external explanations for African American status and action, such implicit “negativity” predicts positive explicit attitudes among those who endorse external explanations. Study 2 provides experimental evidence that the provision of external explanations results in the formation of implicit “negative” associations that are predictive of compassionate responding. Study 3 provides more direct support for the idea that implicit “negative” associations are empathy-based among external explainers by showing that such “negative” associations are positively correlated with a measure of dispositional empathy-proneness. Finally, Study 4 demonstrates that IAT “negativity” is associated with automatic activation of empathy-related associations among those who strongly endorse external explanations. Discussion centers on the importance of considering factors—such as socialexplanations—that may moderate whether implicit “negativity” is prejudice-based or empathy-based.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michael-andreychik/3/