Affective evaluations (i.e., evaluations of affectively evocative stimuli) play important roles in many behaviors, including clinically relevant behaviors like disordered eating. Understanding automatic and controlled affective evaluations can enhance prediction and treatment of more deliberate versus more impulsive clinical behaviors, respectively. However, methodological and theoretical shortcomings cloud the implicit affective evaluation literature, particularly as applied in clinical psychology. This article aims to improve the clinical science of implicit and explicit affective evaluation by capitalizing on theoretical and methodological advancements drawn from implicit social cognition. We recommend three key enhancements to the affective evaluation literature: improve the structural comparability between indirect and direct measures, assess evaluations on both valence and arousal dimensions of affect, and carefully characterize and select stimuli. Additional improvements to analytic approaches (e.g., mixed effects modeling and process dissociation) are also recommended. Such efforts will advance our theoretical understanding of the relative contributions of automatic and controlled processes to clinically relevant affective evaluation, thereby informing assessment and improving intervention. Applying advanced methodologies of implicit cognition to clinical phenomena will also reiterate and reinforce the use of these advances in social psychology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology