The Xpert: Implicit influence test solution offers insight into how implicit approach attitudes and explicit appeal attitudes may work together to influence purchase intent for your product. The methodology behind this solution is based on social cognitive theories of how ideas are stored and accessed in the mind.
Schemas, Semantic Network, and Spreading Activation
To best understand how concepts are stored in the mind, let’s think about an apple. When you conjure up the image of an apple in your mind, you can probably see its shape, color, perhaps you can think about words that describe how it tastes, smells, feels. Each of these individual elements are considered concepts and the interconnection of them in the mind makes up the schema for "apple."
The word "apple" is itself its own concept but all the attributes that define what an apple is are each their own concepts as well, likewise, connected to other concepts that may, or may not, be related to "apple":
In this illustration, we see the concept “apple” connected to other concepts like “sweet,” “red,” “juicy,” etc. The thickness of the line indicates the strength of association between the two concepts. The background square is an arbitrary circling of related words that would make up the apple schema, i.e., all the interconnected concepts that go into what we think about as the abstract idea of apple. Concepts like “iPhone” and “Computer,” while related to the word apple, are outside of this particular schema of "apple." Likewise, the word “pumpkin” is not directly related to "apple" itself but has a mutual connection with pie.
The totality of all interconnected concepts is referred to as the semantic network. No two minds share the exact same structure for their semantic network. Each is based on individual experiences. In the above figure, there is no line between fruit and pumpkin; however, some people may have learned that a pumpkin is, indeed, a fruit so may have this particular connection in their mind. We can rest assured; however, that individual semantic networks are generally similar because people have similar experiences.
Why does reading the word "apple" make me think of a fruit first rather than a computer?
When a single concept (such as seeing the letters APPLE) is activated – meaning it is now sitting in your working memory and you are consciously thinking about it – the activation “energy” then spreads to the connected concepts. Those connections with the greatest strength get the most energy. Once each concept has enough “energy” it is also brought into your working memory and made conscious. The remaining concepts that have energy but have not yet surpassed this activation threshold are now primed and will require less energy to move into working memory.
The person with the above schema may immediately think “red” when reading the word “apple” because of the shared energy. “Green” may be at the ready, but it may take the additional prod of seeing “Granny Smith” to bring “Green” into conscious thought. Meanwhile, although Pumpkin is connected to apple through pie, and presumably strongly connected to the color orange, someone saying “orange apple” will likely NOT conjure up a picture of a pumpkin because of all the other ways the concepts "orange" and "apple" may be interconnected.
On the other hand, if you’re currently thinking about your iPhone (thus that concept is activated) and someone says “apple,” your first instinct may not be to think of a fruit because the word "iPhone" has already primed the technology related concepts in your mind. Thus, these will enter into your working memory faster than the fruit related concepts can.
One component of the Xpert: Implicit influence test solution is identifying if the schema for approach has been primed in the mind after viewing a given image or video. Approach motivation is one of the two most basic human experiences (alongside avoidance) that is inherently connected to anything we do. Before any beliefs or opinions form, a fundamental sense of general approach or avoidance should be primed when viewing a stimulus. We emphasize primed because the sentiment may not yet make it into conscious thought, but because that motivation is primed – at the ready – it will still influence us and the choices we make, such as amount of purchase intent of we may feel.
For more information on how the Xpert: Implicit influence test solution determines if the approach schema is primed after viewing a stimulus, please refer to the Xpert: Implicit influence test Methodology help article.