Over the past few decades, psychologists have become increasingly aware of the limitations of using explicit self-report measures to assess motives, attitudes and opinions particularly with regard to socially sensitive issues. This is due to the challenges posed by both the desire of respondents to appear reasonable and thus answer survey questions in socially desirable ways, as well as their common lack of awareness of their own attitudes regarding the specific objects being evaluated. This is particularly true in areas of protracted conflict, where citizens have been raised and socialized in war. Under such conditions, simply asking people about their motives through surveys or focus groups fails to get beyond their “automatic mental programming” (what they have been conditioned to say) in order to identify what specifically would motivate them to act.
Rule Development Experimentation (RDE) was developed to circumvent such programming and help identify the clusters of motives or mindsets which drive different behaviors. The RDE tool combines several statements into short vignettes and enables each respondent to see and rate each vignette as a whole description. The tool then splits the respondents into 2 or more mind-type segments based on the similarity of their answers through a cluster analysis. This methodology has been applied successfully to important societal problems such as what to say to different mind-type groups of high school students to dissuade them from bullying other students and what type of information to provide different groups of ER cardiac patients to best ensure compliance with prescribed treatments.
Decades of research on mind-types through RDE has found that often a high motivator for one segment is an equally large de-motivator for a different segment. Therefore, without knowing which segment a particular person belongs to, it is quite difficult to know what to say and what not to say to motivate behavior. In response, the RDE team developed a data analytic strategy called Segmentation Wizard. Utilizing Discriminant Function Analysis, the RDE software generates a series of 3-5 questions, the answers to which identify with 70-90 % accuracy which segment a given respondent belongs to.
The paper introduces the empirical science of ‘mind genomics’, whose objective is to understand the dimensions of ordinary, everyday experience, identify mind-set segments of people who value different aspects of that everyday experience, and then assign a new person to a mind-set by a statistically appropriate procedure. By studying different experiences using experimental design of ideas, ‘mind genomics’ constructs an empirical, inductive science of perception and experience, layer by layer. The ultimate objective of ‘mind genomics’ is a large-scale science of experience created using induction, with the science based upon emergent commonalities across many different types of daily experience. The particular topic investigated in the paper is the experience of healthful snacks, what makes a person ‘want’ them, and the dollar value of different sensory aspects of the healthful snack.
This special issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition addresses issues of the measurement and the malleability of implicit prejudice and stereotypes. The findings raise fundamental questions about the assumptions underlying the assessment of implicit prejudice, particularly with regard to the widely used Implicit Association Test (A. Greenwald, D. McGhee, & J. Schwartz, 1998) and the assumption of extant models of prejudice and stereotyping that implicit biases are automatically and invariantly activated when perceivers come in contact with members of stigmatized groups.
Social behavior is ordinarily treated as being under conscious control. However, considerable evidence now supports the view that social behavior often operates in an unconscious fashion. The identifying feature of implicit cognition is that past experience influences judgment in a fashion not introspectively known by the actor. The present conclusion—that attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotypes have important implicit modes of operation—extends both the construct validity and predictive usefulness of these major theoretical constructs of social psychology. Methodologically, this review calls for increased use of indirect measures—which are imperative in studies of implicit cognition.