What Is Implicit Association in Social Psychology?


Martha Robinson

Social psychology is a fascinating field that explores how people interact with each other and the world around them. One concept that has gained significant attention in recent years is implicit association. In this article, we will explore what implicit association is and how it affects our thoughts and behavior.

What is Implicit Association?

Implicit association refers to the unconscious associations that people make between different concepts or attributes. These associations can be based on factors like race, gender, age, or social status and can affect our attitudes and behaviors towards others.

For example, if someone has an implicit bias against a particular race of people, they may be more likely to associate negative traits with members of that group without even realizing it. This can lead to discriminatory behavior towards those individuals.

How Implicit Association Works

Implicit association is thought to occur due to the way our brains process information. When we are exposed to certain stimuli repeatedly, our brains form automatic associations between those stimuli and the responses they elicit.

These associations are reinforced over time through continued exposure and can become deeply ingrained in our unconscious minds. As a result, we may act in ways that are consistent with these associations without even realizing it.

  • Implicit Bias: One common application of implicit association research has been exploring implicit biases.
  • Stereotyping: Implicit association can also contribute to stereotyping.
  • Prejudice: Prejudice is another area where implicit association plays a significant role.

The Impact of Implicit Association

The impact of implicit association on individuals and society as a whole can be significant. Unconscious biases can lead to discrimination in areas such as education, employment, housing, and healthcare.

Moreover, these biases can also influence interpersonal relationships by affecting how we perceive and interact with others. For example, if someone has an implicit bias against a particular group, they may be less likely to form relationships with members of that group.


Implicit association is a complex phenomenon that can have far-reaching consequences for individuals and society as a whole. By becoming aware of our own biases and working to counteract them, we can help create a more just and equitable world.