Annual Anne Treisman Lecture: Implicit Social Cognition

How deep are the bounds on human thinking and feeling and how do they shape social interactions and decisions? For the past 25 years, I have studied mental processes of attitude and beliefs that operate without conscious awareness or conscious control. In social contexts, the decisions that stem from such implicit processes (i.e., automatically elicited social preferences and beliefs) can be at odds with consciously expressed preferences and beliefs including one’s own cherished moral values. From this basic dissociation between implicit and explicit attitudes and beliefs we have explored all aspects of the nature of implicit social cognition: its universality and cultural variations, its developmental origins, neural underpinnings, and stability and malleability. I will provide an overview of this research program with special focus on the experiments that are currently underway in the lab.