Implicit Association Test


A global technology client launched a product that provides privacy and security recommendations to users. The company needed to know if consumers understood the difference between data privacy and security issues, and what keywords they associated with each. The company was building a partnership and they needed to know whether they should go to market as a privacy partner within the current security offering or market it separately as a privacy offering.

To determine the conscious and unconscious association, we employed an Implicit Association Test (IAT). The client provided 20 keywords that represented either privacy or security. Consumers were asked to sort the keywords as quickly and as accurately as they could into two groups—Data Security and Data Privacy. The faster the keyword was sorted, the more implicit and subconscious the associations. The slower the keyword was sorted, the more rationalized and explicit the association.

The IAT was able to confirm that consumers could, and do, differentiate between privacy and security, and that the keywords had differing degrees of strength. The IAT was able to provide a clear continuum of weak explicit to strong implicit communicators. In fact, some keywords thought to be communicators of privacy turned out to be strong keywords for security. The result was an identification of the strongest keywords that could be used to communicate security and privacy to consumers, as well as confirmation that, when presented with the right keywords, consumers understood that privacy and security were different.

Make informed, impactful business decisions that move people into action