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This paper reports the first investigation in the second language acquisition field assessing learners’ implicit attitudes using the Implicit Association Test, a computerized reaction-time measure. Examination of the explicit and implicit attitudes of Arab learners of English (N = 365) showed that, particularly for males, implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers are associated with self-reported openness to the L2 group and with strength of correlations among attitudinal and motivational variables. Implicit attitudes also moderated important paths in the L2 Motivational Self System. The paper concludes that implicit attitudes seem to be a meaningful individual difference variable, adding a new dimension to our understanding of language motivation.
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Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching
Department of English Studies, Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine Arts, Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz
SSLLT 6 (3). 2016. 423-454
doi: 10.14746/ssllt.2016.6.3.4
Unconscious motivation.
Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
The English Language Institute, Jubail Industrial College, Saudi Arabia
This paper reports the first investigation in the second language acquisition
field assessing learners’ implicit attitudes using the Implicit Association Test,
a computerized reaction-time measure. Examination of the explicit and im-
plicit attitudes of Arab learners of English (N = 365) showed that, particularly
for males, implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers are associated with self-re-
ported openness to the L2 group and with strength of correlations among at-
titudinal and motivational variables. Implicit attitudes also moderated im-
portant paths in the L2 Motivational Self System. The paper concludes that
implicit attitudes seem to be a meaningful individual difference variable, add-
ing a new dimension to our understanding of language motivation.
Keywords: implicit attitudes; Implicit Association Test; motivation; ideal L2
self; explicit–implicit correspondence
we may—no matter how deeply we explore—
discover that this simple, conscious report is the
whole truth. It can be taken at its face value.
Gordon Allport (1953, p. 114)
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
1. Introduction
For many readers, the claim that there are implicit, or unconscious, influences on
human motivation would seem commonsense. Indeed, implicit processes consti-
tute an important aspect of investigation in some second language (L2) subdisci-
plines such as learning, teaching, and testing (e.g., Ellis et al., 2009; Rebuschat,
2015; Trofimovich & McDonough, 2011). Curiously, however, language learner
psychology in general—and L2 motivation in particular—has paid little systematic
attention to such implicit processes to date. Major language motivation theories
have instead focused primarily on explicit constructs (e.g., integrative motivation,
intrinsic motivation, the ideal L2 self), thus portraying the learner as a rational
agent who first weighs the pros and cons of a certain activity and then decides
whether to engage in it based on that explicit forethought.
As an illustration, Dörnyei (2005, p. 107) states that “the Ideal and Ought-
to L2 Selves are by definition involved in pre-actional deliberation [emphasis
added].” Even more explicitly, Lanvers (2016) claims that “many students calcu-
late the benefits of languages as a formula” and then “this calculation might
lead students to consider language learning as worthwhile, or not” (p. 87). To
date, L2 motivation theory has not seriously considered the possibility of a par-
allel unconscious motivation influencing language learning. Therefore, con-
scious motivation is, in effect, treated as if it is the “whole truth,” just as Allport
claimed over half a century ago.
The consequences of a conscious-only view of motivation are not limited to
theoretical conceptualizations only but also extend to the types of data that re-
searchers would collect to further advance these conceptualizations. Language
motivation research today still relies predominantly on self-report measures, such
as questionnaires and interviews (Ushioda, 2013). Just as they have justified a
conscious-only view of motivation by resorting to pre-actional deliberation and
formulaic calculation, some motivation researchers have also tried to justify their
reliance on self-report measures. For instance, some have argued that “language
learners’ self-reports might contain sufficient clues” and so “to get to the bottom
of this . . . all we need to do is ask the right questions!” (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011,
pp. 98-99). This state of affairs was foreseen decades ago by David McClelland, a
major proponent of unconscious motives, when he stated, “and the hope still per-
sists that asking a person just the right questions will yield a measure of implicit
motives” (McClelland, Koestner, & Weinberger, 1989, p. 691).
Recent interest in dynamic systems theory (Dörnyei, MacIntyre, & Henry,
2015) has led researchers to draw from some innovative measurement instru-
ments. Nevertheless, the learner’s conscious perspective is typically still at the
heart of these instruments. In the idiodynamic method, for example, it is not
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
clear how the researcher can make sense of the data without recourse to the
“respondent’s interpretation” (MacIntyre, 2012, p. 363) of these idiodynamic
ratings at the end of the day. Due to the lack of a systematic alternative, it is left
up to “the skill of the researcher in carefully probing participants’ perceptions
[emphasis added] during the stimulated recall interview” (Ushioda, 2015, p. 50),
and thus we are limited to what the participant might “rationalise retrospec-
tively” (Ushioda, 2013, p. 236).
In the spirit of Ushioda’s (2013) call for multimethod investigations, this
paper examines the potential of using an implicit test to tap into the uncon-
scious side of the individual’s attitudinal/motivational disposition. It starts by
reviewing evidence for implicit attitudes and motives in mainstream psychology
in order to gain some insights for our field. It then presents data supporting the
relevance of implicit attitudes to language motivation.
2. The unconscious in motivational psychology
Contemporary motivational psychology has started to reconsider some of the
fundamentals of the cognitive revolution (for reviews, see e.g., Al-Hoorie, 2015;
Bargh, Gollwitzer, & Oettingen, 2010). More specifically, there has been a resur-
gence in the interest in attitudes and motivation that operate outside conscious
awareness. Human motivation and behavioral engagement are no longer seen
as the sole product of conscious premeditation by a rational agent.
One line of inquiry providing evidence for this view is research on implicit
attitudes. Implicit attitudes are defined as “introspectively unidentified (or inac-
curately identified) traces of past experience that mediate favorable or unfavor-
able feeling, thought, or action toward social objects” (Greenwald & Banaji,
1995, p. 8). We live in a complex world, in which survival requires efficient nav-
igation, and therefore humans have evolved the ability to simplify the over-
whelming amount of information they encounter everyday. This simplification
process is so efficient that it allows us to make evaluative judgments “without
having to think about it much, sometimes without really thinking at all” (Nosek
& Banaji, 2009, p. 84). Conscious, deliberative processing is more resource-in-
tensive of our cognitive capacity, and therefore it is typically reserved for unfa-
miliar situations. In familiar situations, it is more efficient to leave things on au-
topilot (for more on this functional analysis, see Macrae, Milne, & Bodenhausen,
1994; Macrae, Stangor, & Milne, 1994).
Unfortunately, this efficiency can come at the expense of behaviors that
are not endorsed by our conscious evaluation. For example, having a more fa-
vorable implicit attitude toward one group can prejudice our perception and be-
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
havior against another group. In one study, Green et al. (2007) compared the ex-
plicit and implicit racial attitudes of medical doctors with their medical recom-
mendations. At the explicit level, all doctors expressed equal preference for Black
and White patients, as expected. At the implicit level, however, the more they
favored White patients, the more they also offered them better medical recom-
mendations. Thus, their behavior was in line with their implicit—not explicit—at-
titudes. Other research on implicit attitudes has generated similar results in a va-
riety of areas, such as successfully predicting how far away from an obese woman
one would choose to sit (Bessenoff & Sherman, 2000) and how friendly one be-
haves toward a White versus Black female confederate (McConnell & Leibold,
2001). These findings might reflect attitudes that participants are unwilling to ex-
press, or attitudes they themselves are unaware of. The latter might be inferred
from the recurring observation that many participants first report (conscious)
egalitarian attitudes in questionnaires and then express considerable surprise and
disbelief at the empirical evidence showing their biases. Indeed, “when it comes
to socially sensitive issues or personality characteristics, implicit measures may
reveal attitudes or traits that people are reluctant to admit even to themselves”
(Ajzen, 2005, p. 18).
A second research tradition demonstrating the importance of uncon-
scious influences has investigated implicit motives. Unlike implicit attitudes, im-
plicit motives have typically been limited to a few, biologically-constrained
needs such as achievement, affiliation, and power (Schultheiss & Brunstein,
2010). These implicit motives are unconscious affective predispositions ac-
quired from experiences very early in life (McClelland, 1987). Explicit and im-
plicit motives are related to two different types of motivated behavior. More
specifically, explicit motives stem from external social incentives, and so they
predict immediate responses to specific tasks, while implicit motives stem from
the pleasure of the activity itself and so they predict long-term engagement
(e.g., McClelland et al., 1989). Because implicit motives are concerned with
long-term engagement, their impact extends even to the physiological system,
as individual differences in implicit motives are associated with different health
conditions, such as Type I diabetes and infectious diseases (McClelland, 1989).
Research shows that explicit and implicit motives generally do not corre-
late with each other (e.g., Schultheiss, Yankova, Dirlikov, & Schad, 2009). How-
ever, for some individuals, explicit and implicit motives do display a positive cor-
relation and these individuals consequently experience “personality coher-
ence,” which takes place when one embraces his/her “true self” and its “deeply
rooted affective proclivities” (Thrash & Elliot, 2002, p. 746). This explicit–implicit
congruence predicts positive outcomes related to flow, volitional strength, identity,
and well-being (e.g., Thrash, Maruskin, & Martin, 2012). In contrast, a lack of
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
correlation between explicit and implicit motives is associated with fragmenta-
tion due to adopting social norms not compatible with one’s preexisting implicit
values. This explicit–implicit incongruence is undesirable because success in
long-term pursuits requires both (explicit) proactive organization of goals, as
well as (implicit) spontaneous inclination to keep pursuing these goals (Thrash,
Cassidy, & Maruskin, 2010).
Thus, the emerging evidence from psychological research casts serious
doubt on the view that humans are rational agents who always weigh the ad-
vantages and disadvantages of a course of action consciously and systematically
before engaging in it. Conscious motivation does play a role, but without con-
sidering the role of unconscious influences also, a substantial proportion of hu-
man motivation may go unaccounted for.
3. Insights for language motivation
It is possible for the language motivation field to gain insights from the above liter-
ature. One of the most central concepts in L2 motivation theory is the notion that
positive attitudes toward L2 speakers play an important facilitative role in L2 learn-
ing success. First introduced by Gardner and Lambert (1959), the claim that learn-
ing an L2 is unlike other school subjects—because of the social baggage it entails—
has enjoyed continuing popularity throughout the decades. In more recent devel-
opments, L2 motivation has been construed cognitively in terms of future self-
guides (e.g., Dörnyei, 2009; Dörnyei & Kubanyiova, 2014), and because L2 speakers
are the closest parallel to a desired future self-guide, the new self interpretation is
“fully compatible” with traditional emphasis on attitudes toward L2 speakers
(Dörnyei, 2009, p. 28). However, research on learners’ attitudes toward L2 speakers
has generally focused on explicit attitudes, as evident from the reliance on self-
report questionnaires and interviews. It is plausible that another, implicit dimen-
sion also plays a role in language motivation. The present study therefore investi-
gated this possibility by adopting implicit attitudes as a broad framework, and by
drawing from some aspects from the implicit motives tradition.
In addition, the role of implicit attitudes might be gender-specific. Research
has shown that females tend to show more implicit positivity toward language
and arts (vs. math and science) than do males (Nosek, Banaji, & Greenwald, 2002).
This effect has also been observed in schoolchildren as young as 6 years of age
(Cvencek, Meltzoff, & Greenwald, 2011). These findings mirror results from the L2
motivation field, where a “recurring source of systematic variation” (You, Dörnyei,
& Csizér, 2016, p. 100) is that females exhibit more positive attitudes toward lan-
guage learning. This study therefore examined the relationship between gender
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
and implicit attitudes. More detailed discussion of the insights that this study
gained from the above literature is discussed next.
3.1. Openness to the L2 group
Since L2 motivation is associated with openness to the L2 group (Dörnyei, 2009),
this study investigated whether learners with positive implicit attitudes would
exhibit more openness. Openness might be indicated directly by more favorable
attitudes toward the L2 group, or indirectly by lower L1 group affiliation such as
ethnocentrism and fear of assimilation (see Freynet & Clément, 2015). Espe-
cially in Europe, another indication of L1 group affiliation is religiosity, which is
commonly viewed as a hindrance to openness to other groups (e.g., Foner &
Alba, 2008). Since the participants of this study are L1 Arabic learners of English
in the UK (see Section 5.1), and since Islam is inseparable from one’s L1 identity
for many Arabs, this study also investigated the association between religiosity
and implicit attitudes toward the L2 group. Religiosity has not been investigated
systematically in the context of language learning previously (for an exception,
see Wong, Kristjansson, & Dörnyei, 2013).
Furthermore, rather than simply comparing learners with positive versus
negative attitudes, this study examined the congruence between explicit and
implicit attitudes. Drawing from the literature on explicit–implicit congruence,
one might think of attitudes as varying along two dimensions. An individual’s
attitude toward a certain social object might be congruently favorable (or unfa-
vorable) at the explicit and implicit levels, or it may be incongruently favorable
on one dimension but not the other, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1 The four types resulting from the two-dimensional conceptualization of attitudes
Most favorable scenario
Least favorable scenario
Norm of mediocrity?
Resilient motivation?
Note. Although attitude falls along continua, this categorical classification (positive vs. negative) is in-
tended for illustrative purposes.
Type 1 in Table 1 is the ideal scenario, while Type 2 is the least preferable
one. Type 3 would be unusual, and might be a reflection of the norm of medi-
ocrity (see Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011; Taylor, 2013). The norm of mediocrity re-
fers to the situation where some learners deliberately show mediocre motiva-
tion and achievement in order to avoid being penalized by their peers. Type 4
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
can arguably be seen as the most interesting scenario for the present purposes
because it parallels Type 1 in terms of explicit attitudes. Individuals in both types
express positive attitudes explicitly, but they differ in their implicit attitudes.
Comparison of these two types could shed important light on the role of implicit
attitudes. For this reason, the first research focused on Types 1 and 4 by first
selecting learners who expressed positive attitudes at the explicit level, and then
dividing them into those with congruently positive and incongruently negative
attitudes at the implicit level.
Still, because this type of classification might seem artificial, cluster analysis
was also conducted.1 As detailed below, the results of the two approaches led to
very similar results. The first research question could be summarized as follows:
RQ 1: Compared with incongruent learners, do congruent learners exhibit more
openness to the L2 group?
3.2. Personality coherence
Based on the personality coherence literature, the explicit–implicit conflict is
uncomfortable and therefore individuals with incongruent attitudes (i.e., Types
3 & 4) may tend to adopt explicit attitudes that are aligned with their implicit
attitudes. This is certainly good news for individuals whose implicit attitudes are
positive. However, when implicit attitudes are negative (e.g., against another
group), research shows that these negative implicit attitudes can be counter-
acted by factors such as high explicit motivation. For example, Devine et al.
(2002) have shown that when participants had implicit biases against an out-
group but also had internalized motivations to control these biases, they were
able to control their prejudice better than participants with similar biases but
without the motivation (see also Glaser & Knowles, 2008, for similar results).
When it comes to language learning, it is therefore plausible that the effect
of negative implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers may not be the same across the
board: While some learners might submit to these attitudes (by adopting explicit
attitudes that are also negative), others may have sufficiently high motivation to
actively counteract them (and adopt positive explicit attitudes instead). The latter
can happen when the learner recognizes the value of the language in degree attain-
ment or career advancement. From this perspective, then, learners with negative
implicit attitudes range from those adopting their negative attitudes explicitly (for
the sake of psychological comfort) to those counteracting them (for the sake of the
pragmatic value of the language). In contrast, those with already positive attitudes
implicitly would have little reason to adopt negative attitudes explicitly.
1 I thank an anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Thus, the personality coherence literature suggests that individuals with
positive versus negative implicit attitudes may be two distinct groups. If this is the
case, then treating them as a single group can be misleading. In the context of
correlational analysis, for example, pooling heterogeneous groups and then cal-
culating correlation coefficients has been described by some statisticians as non-
sensical (Hassler & Thadewald, 2003). Because correlational analysis is by far one
of the most common statistical procedures in language research (Plonsky, 2013),
it would be interesting to find out whether taking implicit attitudes into account
changes the resulting correlations. This study therefore compared the correla-
tions among attitudinal and motivational variables within each of these two
groups. The second research question can be formulated as follows:
RQ 2: Do learners with positive versus negative implicit attitudes exhibit equivalent
correlations among attitudinal and motivational scales?
3.3. The moderating effect of implicit attitudes
Although finding novel results is interesting in itself, it is also important to con-
sider how they relate to existing theory. One particularly popular theory of L2
motivation at present is the L2 motivational self system (L2 MSS; Dörnyei, 2005,
2009). In this model, which is schematically represented in Figure 1, attitudes
toward L2 speakers predict the strength of the individual’s ideal L2 self, which in
turn predicts both the criterion measures and attitudes toward learning the lan-
guage. The current study focuses on Arrows A and B in Figure 1 (Arrow C is
relatively weak; see for example Taguchi, Magid, & Papi, 2009; You et al., 2016;
for a discussion, see Islam, Lamb, & Chambers, 2013, p. 239). The analysis ex-
plored whether implicit attitudes moderate either of these two paths. Because
this was the first attempt to integrate implicit attitudes with the L2 MSS, no prior
expectations were made about the direction of the effects. The relevant re-
search question can be stated as follows:
RQ 3: Do implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers moderate the relationship between
explicit attitudes toward L2 speakers and the ideal L2 self, and between the
ideal L2 self and attitudes toward learning English?
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
Figure 1 Schematic representation of the L2 motivational self system (adapted
from Taguchi et al., 2009)
4. The Implicit Association Test
An important question now is how to investigate implicit attitudes. If the indi-
vidual is unaware of these influences, then explicit self-report (via a question-
naire or an interview) would be of limited utility: Any adequate measure would
have to tap into these influences indirectly. At present, the most widely used
measure of implicit attitudes is the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald,
McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998). The IAT is a computerized reaction-time measure
that simply requires classifying a series of words to the right or left as fast as
possible. As an illustration of how this test works, Figure 2 gives an example of
the Flower–Insect IAT. This test measures how strongly the participant associ-
ates flowers and insects with good and bad. In the first part of the test (Figure
2A), a stimulus appears in the middle of the screen (e.g., Roses) and the partici-
pant has to decide which box this stimulus belongs to by pressing one of two
designated buttons on the keyboard. The correct answer in Figure 2A is the left
box. Afterward, another stimulus appears and, again, the participant has to de-
cide which of the four categories the stimulus belongs to in order to classify it
to the correct box. The stimuli may belong to Flowers (e.g., roses, orchids, tu-
lips), Insects (e.g., cockroaches, mosquitoes, wasps), Good (e.g., smart, friendly,
clean), or to Bad (e.g., dumb, enemy, dirty).
Note that this is not an attitude test per se. The stimuli are shown to the
participant in advance with their correct categorization, and so the participant’s
Attitudes to
king People Ideal L2 Self
Attitudes to
L2 Self
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
task is not to guess (or express their attitude about) the correct response, but
to simply perform the test as fast as possible. Most participants therefore find
the configuration in Figure 2A very easy to perform and breeze through it. In the
second part of the test (Figure 2B),Flower is paired with Bad whileInsect with
Good. This part suddenly feels considerably harder. This is because, in the first
part, Flower and Good form one higher category (e.g., pleasant things), and In-
sect and Bad form another category (e.g., unpleasant things). Therefore, the
participant in effect classifies the stimuli into only two—rather than four—cate-
gories (i.e., simply move all pleasant things to the left and unpleasant things to
the right). In the second part, however, the participant has to sort the stimuli
into the four categories (neither of the two pairs readily merges into one intui-
tive category), and so the task requires substantially more cognitive resources,
resulting in slower performance. This is why it is called the Implicit Association
Test: It is implicit because participants find it hard to anticipate which configu-
ration would be more difficult and are usually surprised by their own results; it
is an association test because it measures the strength of the association of the
categories in each pair; and it is a test because it measures the participant’s per-
formance speed. To the extent that categories of interest are paired with evalu-
ative adjectives (e.g., good,bad), implicit attitudes are inferred from the re-
sponse speeds in the two parts of the test.2
A. B.
Figure 2 An illustration of the Flower—Insect IAT
The IAT is flexible and can be easily adapted to measure implicit associations
about various social objects, such as racial prejudice (e.g., White–Good, Black–Bad)
and gender stereotypes (e.g., Male–Work, Female–Home). The popularity of the
IAT has generated a sizable amount of literature utilizing it in various domains, thus
2 Readers who find this description too abstract are encouraged to try out a demonstration
of the IAT first-hand at
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
permitting scrutiny of its reliability and validity. The reliability of the IAT is consid-
ered the highest among all implicit measures of attitudes available, with internal
consistency and split-half reliabilities amounting to r = .79 across 50 studies in a
meta-analysis by Hofmann, Gawronski, Gschwendner, Le, and Schmitt (2005).
As for the validity of the IAT, there is still continuing debate concerning what
exactly the IAT is actually measuring. Critics of the IAT question the implicit atti-
tudes construct. In the context of racial prejudice, for example, they argue that the
IAT measures shared cultural stereotypes rather than personal animus (e.g., Arkes
& Tetlock, 2004). Similarly, Oswald, Mitchell, Blanton, Jaccard, and Tetlock (2013)
question the IAT on the basis of overall poor prediction of relevant criterion
measures. However, in their meta-analysis, both explicit and implicit measures per-
formed almost as poorly. Additionally, this meta-analysis was criticized for includ-
ing correlations that have no theoretical basis (Greenwald, Banaji, & Nosek, 2015).
Proponents of the IAT, in contrast, argue that the validity of the IAT is a
“scientific certainty” (Rudman, 2008), drawing from findings in various domains
including consumer references, political preferences, personality traits, sexual
orientations, and close relationships (see Greenwald, Poehlman, Uhlmann, &
Banaji, 2009). Proponents also cite the IAT’s known-groups validity. That is, re-
search shows that the IAT is capable of correctly distinguishing among members
of different groups in accordance with our a priori knowledge of them, such as
reliably determining the participant’s gender, nationality, and even affiliation to
a group artificially created in the laboratory (for a review, see Lane, Banaji,
Nosek, & Greenwald, 2007). The present study constitutes the first contribution
of the L2 field to the debate over the validity of the IAT.
5. Method
5.1. Participants
A total of 365 Arabic L1 speakers qualified for the final analysis. Data were col-
lected from eight more participants who were excluded for having more than 10%
latencies faster than 300 ms in the implicit test, which is indicative of random re-
sponding. Three more participants were excluded because their L1 was Kurdish
and not Arabic, though they passed as native speakers of Arabic. The sample was
restricted to Arabs because the scales related to L1 group affiliation (see Section
5.2.2.) were worded to specifically address Arab identity and Arabic as L1. The
qualifying participants (male = 257, female = 108) were studying English at various
British universities and language institutes when they volunteered to take part in
the study. They came from various Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia (33.2%),
Libya (29.3%), and Iraq (22.5%), and had lived in an English-speaking country for
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
a minimum of half a month and a maximum of 96 months (M = 22.43,SD = 20.3).
Different age groups were also represented in the sample (11% 17–20 years old,
25.5% 20–25, 23.3% 26–30, 16.4% 31–35, 14.8% 36–40, 7.9% older), with four
participants having missing age data. As detailed below, length of residence and
age were statistically controlled for (and this had no effect on the results).
5.2. Materials
5.2.1. Implicit test
The IAT was adapted to measure attitudes toward English speakers. As shown in
Table 2, in each of the seven parts (called blocks), a left or right button on the
keyboard was to be pressed in order to rapidly categorize a series of stimuli ap-
pearing in the center of a computer screen. In the first two blocks, the partici-
pants practiced categorizing words as to whether they were Pleasant or Un-
pleasant (conventionally called attributes), and then whether they were related
to Arabic or English (categories). Then the actual test started. In the first condi-
tion, Blocks 3 and 4, Arabic was paired with Pleasant while English with Unpleas-
ant, as shown in Figure 3. In the other condition, Blocks 6 and 7, the categories
were switched so that English was now paired with Pleasant, and Arabic with
Unpleasant. The participants also practiced the reversed attributes alone in
Block 5. Before each block, the participants read instructions and were re-
minded to perform as fast as possible. The whole implicit test took around five
minutes to complete. The stimuli used appear in Appendix A.
Table 2 Overview of the Implicit Association Test
Block Trials Function
Response key assignment
Left button
Right button (I)
Test 1
Pleasant or Arabic
Unpleasant or English
Test 2
Pleasant or Arabic
Unpleasant or English
Test 1
Unpleasant or Arabic
Pleasant or English
Test 2
Unpleasant or Arabic
Pleasant or English
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
Figure 3 A trial of the IAT. The correct answer here would be the left button (E)
because the stimulus Honest belongs to Pleasant. In the actual test, Pleasant,
Unpleasant, and their stimuli appeared in green font, while Arabic,English, and
their stimuli appeared in white.
The order of the combined tasks was not counterbalanced because coun-
terbalancing can artificially suppress explicit–implicit correlations (Banse, Seise, &
Zerbes, 2001; Gawronski, 2002) and sometimes artificially inflates them
(Hofmann et al., 2005). When an incorrect response was given, a red X appeared
and the participant had to correct the error, by pressing the other button, before
proceeding to the next trial. The stimuli in the test blocks were alternatively drawn
from the Arabic and English categories (odd-numbered trials) and from the Pleas-
ant andUnpleasant attributes (even-numbered trials). Each stimulus was selected
randomly and without replacement, and therefore all stimuli were used once be-
fore any were reused. Split-half analysis based on even-versus-odd trials showed
that the IAT had very good reliability (Spearman-Brown’s ρ = .83). All participants
were taking the IAT for the first time. The software used was Inquisit 4 (2014).
The IAT scores were coded so that a positive score reflected implicit prefer-
ence for the L2 group, and a negative score reflected implicit preference for the L1
group. The IAT is a relative measure, in that a positive score indicates preference
for the L2 group but does not necessarily imply negative attitudes toward the L1
group (i.e., only more positive attitudes toward the L2 group). For this reason, in-
stead of using the conventional terminology that describes learners as having pos-
itive versus negative attitudes toward the L2 group, they are labelled here simply
as having implicit preference for the L2 group versus the L1 group, respectively.
5.2.2. Explicit measures
The participants also completed nine self-reported attitudinal and motivational
scales that seemed particularly relevant when drawing comparisons between
explicit and implicit dispositions:
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
1. Attitudes toward English-Speaking People (3 items, Cronbach’s α = .85).
Example item: “I wish I could have many more English friends.”
2. Attitudes toward Learning English (4 items, α = .74). Example item:
“Learning English is very interesting.”
3. The Ideal L2 Self (4 items, α = .78). Example item: “I can imagine myself
mastering English one day.”
4. The Ought-to L2 Self (3 items, α = .65). Example item: “I must study Eng-
lish because it will earn me respect in the society.”
A higher score in each of these four scales, adapted from Taguchi et al. (2009),
indicated more positive attitudes. Three other scales measured the strength of
affiliation to one’s own group and the desire to preserve and spread its values:
5. Fear of Assimilation (5 items, α = .78), adapted from Taguchi et al.
(2009). Example item: “I think that the interest in the West has a nega-
tive influence on the Arab culture.”
6. Ethnocentrism (5 items, α = .74), adapted from Neuliep and McCroskey
(1997). Example item: “I find it difficult to work together with people
who have different customs.”
7. Religious Attitudes (4 items, α = .71), developed for this study. Example
item: “The idea of sharing my Islamic faith with my non-Muslim friends
is always present in my mind.”
A higher score in each of these three scales reflected stronger L1 group affilia-
tion. The above seven scales all involved a 7-point Likert response format rang-
ing from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Finally, the instrument also in-
cluded two semantic differential scales developed for this study:
8. Attitudes toward the English (10 bipolar adjective scales,α = .74).
9. Attitudes toward Arabs (10 bipolar adjective scales, α = .84).
The ten adjectives used in these two scales were identical to each other, and to
the stimuli used for the Pleasant and Unpleasant attributes of the IAT (though
clean and dirty were dropped from the semantic differential scales; see Appen-
dix A for the complete list). Semantic differential scales were used here instead
of Likert scales due to the observation that a higher explicit–implicit consistency
is found when implicit scores are compared with scores from semantic differen-
tial scales (Hofmann et al., 2005). Because the participants were residing in the
UK, both explicit and implicit measures addressed British speakers of English
specifically. All materials in the explicit and implicit measures were also trans-
lated into Arabic to avoid language interference.
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
5.3. Procedure
During a one-to-one meeting with the researcher, each participant responded
to items randomly drawn in a fixed order from the seven Likert scales, to the
Arab semantic differential scale, to the English semantic differential scale, to the
implicit test, to demographic questions, and to the Religious Attitudes scale, in
this sequence—all on a computer. The explicit and implicit parts were not coun-
terbalanced because previous research has documented little order effect (see
Lane et al., 2007). The procedure followed in this study was endorsed by the
ethics committee at the researcher’s institution.
5.4. Data analysis
For the implicit test, the analysis closely followed the improved scoring algo-
rithm, called the D Measure, recommended by Greenwald, Nosek, and Banaji
(2003). The four test blocks were included in the analysis, and the latency of
each incorrect response was replaced with the block mean plus 600 ms error
penalty. The analysis differed from the recommended algorithm in two ways,
however. First, the 10,000 ms latency threshold used to determine and exclude
extreme responses, which was selected “somewhat arbitrarily” (Greenwald et
al., 2003, p. 201), was replaced with the more stringent threshold of 5,000 ms.
Despite the stringency of this new procedure, virtually all participants had less
than 10% latencies that were slower than 5,000 ms, thus no participant had to
be excluded because of it. Second, the standard IAT score ranges from –2 to +2
(Nosek & Sriram, 2007), with conventional break points of >.15, >.35, and >.65
signifying slight, moderate, and strong implicit preference, respectively. The IAT
scores were multiplied by 1.5 here so that the new scale ranged from –3 to +3.
The break points therefore became .20, .50, and 1.0 after rounding. In addition
to its intuitive appeal, this rescaling made the IAT scores directly comparable to
scores derived from the explicit measures.
For the explicit measures, all items were centered on zero, so that they also
ranged from –3 to +3. Following Greenwald et al. (2003), a relative explicit measure
was obtained from the two semantic differential scales using a formula adapted
from the D Measure in order to facilitate comparison with the implicit scores:
 − 
 ×1.5,
where En is Attitudes toward the English, Ar is Attitudes toward Arabs, and SDinclusive
is their combined standard deviation. The resulting score, called the Explicit D
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Measure here, ranged from almost –3 to +3 (from –2.92 to +2.92 to be exact)
and correlated very strongly with the mean of these two semantic differential
scales (r = .96, p < .001).
6. Results
6.1. Descriptive statistics
Table 3 presents the descriptive statistics of the variables and their inter-corre-
lations. The Explicit D Measure had a neutral mean but a relatively higher stand-
ard deviation—indicating wide disagreement among the participants—while
the Implicit D Measure suggests that the overall sample was actually moderately
inclined more toward their L1 group. The newly developed Religious Attitudes
scale correlated moderately to strongly with Ethnocentrism and Fear of Assimi-
lation, suggesting that it also reflects an aspect of L1 group affiliation.
The table also shows that the participants expressed generally positive
explicit attitudes toward English-speaking people and toward learning English
and had high ideal L2 selves. This was to be expected given that the sample was
made up of individuals who chose to go to the UK to study English. This positive
slant would make the case more interesting if subsequent analyses reveal that
some participants have an influential L1 implicit preference operating beneath
this positive surface.
Table 3 Means, standard deviations, and zero-order correlations for the overall
sample (N = 365). All scales are centered on zero and range from -3 to +3
1. Attitudes to English
speaking People
2. Attitudes to Language Learning
3. Ideal L2 Self
4. Ought
to L2 Self
5. Fear of Assimilation
6. Ethnocentrism
7. Religious Attitudes
8. Attitudes to Arabs (SDS)
9. Attitudes to the English ( SDS)
10. Explicit
11. Implicit
Note. SDS = sematic differential scale.
***p .001, ** p .01, * p .05, † p< .10.
The correlations in Table 3 show that the Explicit and Implicit D Measures
did not correlate with each other. However, they did behave similarly in correlat-
ing negatively with all three L1 group affiliation scales. There were no significant
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
differences in how strongly they correlated with these three scales (the strong
correlations between the Explicit D Measure and the two semantic differential
scales were merely an artifact of being derived from them). Finally, in line with
previous research, females outperformed males both in the implicit test, t(363) =
1.91,p = .057, d = 0.22, and in the Ideal L2 Self, t = 4.93, p < .001, d = 0.57.
6.2. RQ 1: Openness to the L2 group
This question is concerned with whether participants with explicit–implicit congru-
ence (i.e., Type 1 in Table 1) would exhibit more openness to the L2 group than
would incongruent participants (Type 4 in Table 1). Because both of these types
share positive attitudes toward L2 speakers at the explicit level, this part of the
analysis included only participants who obtained a score higher than the neutral
zero (i.e., positive) in Attitudes toward English-speaking People. This is the first
step. The two types differ in their implicit attitudes, hence the participants selected
in the first step were then subdivided based on their Implicit D Measure scores into
those in the upper and lower quartiles (i.e., excluding middle-range participants).
As a result, this two-step selection procedure produced two subgroups with con-
trasting implicit attitudes but commonly shared positive explicit attitudes.
At-test demonstrated that participants who exhibited explicit–implicit con-
gruence also exhibited significantly more positivity in Attitudes toward English-
speaking People (M = 2.05, SD = 0.75, n = 78) than the ones with explicit–implicit
incongruence (M = 1.81,SD = 0.77, n = 84), t(160) = 1.99, p = .048, d = 0.32. These
results lend support to the view that explicit–implicit congruence predicts more
openness to the L2 group. Table 4 contains a summary of the differences in the
other group-related scales. All results are also consistent with this view.
Table 4 Differences between participants with explicit–implicit congruence (n = 78)
and incongruence (n = 84)
Fear of Assimilation
3.35*** 0.53
2.49** 0.39
Religious Attitudes
3.11** 0.49
Attitudes toward Arabs
2.48** 0.40
Note. Bonferroni correction have been implemented. Adding length of residence in an English-speak-
ing country and age as covariates does not influence these results.
**p .01, *** p = .001.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
A two-step log-likelihood cluster analysis based on these five scales read-
ily yielded two clusters with a ratio of 1.05. A t-test showed that the cluster
showing more explicit openness to the L2 group also scored significantly higher
in the implicit test, t(363) = 3.60, p < .001, d = 0.38. This suggests that implicit
attitudes are associated with openness to the L2 group for the sample overall.
Further analyses showed that this effect is markedly stronger within the male
subsample, t(250) = 3.27, p = .001, d = 0.41; but not statistically significant for
the female subsample, t(106) = 1.49, p = .14, d = 0.29. These results suggest that
implicit attitudes are especially relevant for male language learners.
6.3. RQ 2: Personality coherence
This question compared the correlation coefficients for learners with implicit
preference for the L1 versus L2 groups. An analysis was conducted based on a
median-split of the Implicit D Measure scores. Table 5 presents the results for
the two genders. Typically, researchers examine the first column (i.e., rall), which
pools all participants regardless of their implicit attitudes. The next two columns
separate those with a low implicit score showing preference for the L1 group
(the rL1-pref column) from those with a high implicit score showing preference for
the L2 group (the rL2-pref column). The crucial part is the last column. It examines
whether the correlation coefficients in the rL1-pref and rL2-pref columns differ sig-
nificantly. (That is, two correlation coefficients might be different [e.g., .20 vs.
.22] but the magnitude of this difference may not be large enough to warrant
statistical significance.) This column reports Fisher’s r-to-z transformation,
which is a standard approach to comparing correlation coefficients (Kenny,
1987, p. 275). Dörnyei and Chan (2013) for example have used it to compare
correlation pairs related to the motivation to learn two different languages.
Table 5 shows a total of 17 instances in which pairs of correlation coeffi-
cients differed significantly between the two subgroups (the full correlation ta-
bles are available in Appendix B). As mentioned above, the rall column—which
does not take implicit attitudes into account—is the one typically examined by
researchers. However, when the participants were separated based on their im-
plicit attitudes, the correlations of the L1 preference participants dropped to
non-significance in 14 instances, whereas the correlations of the L2 preference
participants became even stronger. For example, for females, Attitudes toward
L2 Speakers and Attitudes toward L2 Learning appeared moderately correlated
for the overall sample, which is the expected result from the literature as re-
viewed above. However, the next two columns show that this pattern actually
holds only when implicit attitudes toward the L2 group are favorable. This sug-
gests that pooling these two different groups can be misleading.
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
Table 5 Correlations for males and females comparing the overall sample, those with
L1 and L2 implicit preference, and the difference between the latter two groups
(n = 257)
(n = 128)
(n = 129) z
Implicit D Measure .14* –.08 .21* 2.32*
Attitudes to L2 Speakers .18** .03 .33*** 2.48*
Attitudes to L2 Learning .13* –.04 .29*** 2.68**
Attitudes to L2 Learning
Attitudes to the English (SDS) .21*** .09 .32*** 1.91†
Attitudes to L2 Learning
Fear of Assimilation –.08 .08 –.23** 2.49**
Attitudes to L2 Speakers
Ideal L2 Self .31*** .04 .32*** 2.31*
Fear of Assimilation –.27*** –.11 –.34*** 3.68***
Ethnocentrism –.19** –.01 –.22** 1.69†
Religious Attitudes –.21*** –.05 –.29** 1.97*
Attitudes to Arabs –.12* .05 –.19* 1.92*
Attitudes to L2 Speakers
Fear of Assimilation –.13* –.06 –.27** 1.72†
Attitudes to L2 Speakers
Attitudes to Arabs (SDS) .03 .18* –.10 2.24*
(n = 108)
(n = 54)
(n = 54) z
Attitudes to L2 Speakers
Attitudes to L2 Learning .34*** .05 .61*** 3.33***
Ideal L2 Self –.02 –.08 .29* 1.91†
Ethnocentrism –.12 .08 –.29* 1.91†
Attitudes to L2 Learning
Implicit D Measure –.09 –.32* .11 2.23*
Attitudes to the English
Ethnocentrism .06 .27* –.18 2.32*
Note. All hypotheses are two-tailed. SDS = semantic differential scale. † p< .10, * p .05, ** p .01, *** p .001.
In the only three instances in which this pattern was reversed, the corre-
lations that emerged for those with L1 preference were theoretically somewhat
unexpected. It is not clear why the women had a negative correlation between
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
L2 learning attitudes and implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers, or why the more
they rated the English favorably the more they were also ethnocentric. Also, the
men tended to rate the two groups similarly as if they did not see much differ-
ence between them. These results suggest that learners with lower implicit at-
titudes do not seem to follow theoretically expected patterns. Future research
is needed to shed more light on the motivation of this group of learners.
Again, this effect is more marked for males than females, as fewer signifi-
cant differences emerged from the female subsample. This pattern supports the
results related to RQ 1 showing that implicit attitudes play a larger role for males.
Overall, therefore, the results demonstrate that pooling learners without regard
to their level of implicit attitudes carries the danger of masking salient internal
differences that may in turn suppress the overall correlation coefficient.3
6.4. RQ 3: Moderating the L2 MSS
This question examined whether implicit attitudes moderate the relationship
between (explicit) attitudes toward L2 speakers and the ideal L2 self, and be-
tween the ideal L2 self and attitudes toward learning English. A multi-group
structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis was conducted using Amos 22
(Arbuckle, 2013). The SEM analysis followed the recommended two-step ap-
proach of examining the measurement model before proceeding to the struc-
tural model (for details, see Appendix C).
The results for the overall sample, displayed in Figure 4 above the arrows
and in Table 6, show that both paths are statistically significant. Again, these are
the typical results researchers obtain when they do not take implicit attitudes
into account. However, when implicit attitudes were taken into account, a dif-
ferent picture emerged. Learners with an L2 preference outperformed their L1
preference counterparts in the path from Attitudes toward English-speaking
People to the Ideal L2 Self (z = 1.88, p < .10), while the opposite pattern emerged
in the other path (z = 2.48, p < .05).
These results suggest that learners resort to the L2 group to develop their
ideal L2 selves only when their implicit attitudes toward that group are favora-
ble. At the same time, these learners—because of their favorable attitudes at
the implicit levelmay not need to consciously resort to their ideal L2 selves to
remain motivated; their motivation may be maintained spontaneously. This pattern
implies that a conscious ideal L2 self is more relevant to learners with lower
3 The Bonferroni correction was not implemented in this part of the analysis following the
convention in the field. Language motivation researchers do not correct for multiple compari-
sons when they use correlations (like those in Table 3), and the present analysis is intended to
show what the results might look like when implicit attitudes are taken into account.
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
implicit attitudes toward the L2 group, and that because of their lower implicit
attitudes these learners might derive their ideals from sources other than the
L2 group to sustain their motivation. Thus, implicit attitudes seem to reveal a
more nuanced picture of language motivation, showing very different motiva-
tional dynamics underlying these two types of learners.
Figure 4 Standardized coefficients of final model for all participants (above the
arrows) and for those who had L1 vs. L2 implicit preference (under the arrows).
Indicators and error terms were deleted for simplicity. The structural model had
an adequate fit, χ²(75) = 199.701, p < .001, χ²/df = 2.663, GFI = .943, CFI = .945,
RMSEA = .048, PCLOSE = .660.
*** p < .001, ** p < .01, * p < .05.
Table 6 Standardized and unstandardized coefficients, standard errors, and crit-
ical ratios in the final model for the overall sample, and for participants with L1
vs. L2 implicit preference
Attitudes toward L2 People
Ideal L2 Self
Ideal L2 Self
Attitude toward L2 Learning
Note. * p< .05, ** p < .01, *** p< .001.
7. Discussion
Conventional L2 motivation theories tend to portray language learners as ra-
tional agents, varying along one (conscious) dimension: a continuum from high
to low motivation. This is evident both in theoretical discussions and in actual
empirical investigations where self-report questionnaires and interviews are
predominant. The present paper has presented the first study in the L2 field
using the IAT to examine language learners’ implicit attitudes. The results
demonstrate that another (unconscious) dimension has important implications
for language learning motivation. The implicit attitudes construct may therefore
have the potential to move the field forward toward interesting directions.
Attitudes to
L2 Self
Attitudes to
.05 / .28**
.45*** / .13
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Implicit attitudes also appeared more relevant to males than to females.
This supports previous research showing that females tend to exhibit more pos-
itivity toward languages (vs. math and science) both explicitly and implicitly, and
consequently they may have less reason to develop explicit–implicit incongru-
ence. Implicit attitudes may therefore be a valuable pathway for a better under-
standing of gender differences in language learning. The present study also of-
fers support for the utility of religious attitudes for Arab learners as a further
indicator of openness to the L2 group. It is still unclear to what extent this would
be useful in societies in which religion is not a salient aspect.
That implicit attitudes correlated negatively with L1 group affiliation in-
vites speculation on the nature of implicit attitudes. Originally, fear of assimila-
tion was investigated primarily in the Canadian context, where French speakers
were at risk of being assimilated into the dominant Anglophone culture (e.g.,
Clément, 1980). Today, with the unprecedented worldwide spread of the English
language, fear of assimilation may no longer be confined to minorities living in
the shadows of another dominant group. Many learners around the world feel
that Global English is a form of Westernization invading their cultural distinctive-
ness (see Dörnyei, Csizér, & Németh, 2006, for an in-depth analysis), especially
if we remember that the basis of fear of assimilation is the threat to perceived
ethnolinguistic vitality (i.e., language status, demography, and institutional sup-
port; see Giles, Bourhis, & Taylor, 1977). The ensuing fear of assimilation need
not be explicit, however, considering the undeniable advantages of English pro-
ficiency for one’s future career. A learner faced with this situation may be bound
to experience ambivalent feelings reflecting an explicit–implicit conflict. Further
research is needed to scrutinize these hypotheses.
8. Limitations
One potential limitation of this study is that the sample contains a mixture of
different ages and educational levels. In fact, because of this diversity, a stand-
ardized measure of L2 achievement was not feasible. Therefore, little can be said
about the extent to which implicit attitudes are relevant to actual classroom
learning. In addition, the female sample was smaller, which limits the generali-
zability of the results. Another limitation is the exclusive reliance on the IAT.
Since no measure is perfect, utilizing other measures of implicit attitudes in fu-
ture research would be more informative. Nosek, Hawkins, and Frazier (2011),
for example, review 20 different implicit measures.
In a first attempt to address some of these limitations, a follow-up study by
Al-Hoorie (in press) involved undergraduate language learners from one institu-
tion, and so a measure of L2 achievement could be obtained. These participants
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
also had very similar ages and most had never visited an English-speaking coun-
try. They performed the Single-target Implicit Association Test (Wigboldus,
Holland, & van Knippenberg, 2005), and their results showed that implicit atti-
tudes were indeed able to predict L2 achievement. Moreover, implicit attitudes
still predicted achievement after controlling for the other explicit variables in
the study (e.g., the ideal L2 self, attitudes toward the learning situation, in-
tended effort), suggesting that the effect of implicit attitudes is not mediated by
those variables. Additionally, this effect could not be explained either by social
desirability biases or by other cognitive confounds. These findings serve to rein-
force the relevance of implicit attitudes to language learning.
9. Conclusion
This paper has argued that the implicit side of attitudes and motivation may con-
stitute a more important component in the overall understanding of language
learning motivation than is currently acknowledged in mainstream theories. Fo-
cusing entirely on explicit attitudes and motivation in empirical studies could
mask the potential impact of any conflicting implicit attitudes. The findings of this
study offer evidence that this impact can in some subgroups change the results
substantially, which in turn suggests that adding an implicit dimension to our over-
all understanding of motivation may be a fruitful future direction.
I would like to thank Zoltán Dörnyei, Phil Hiver, and three anonymous reviewers
for their comments on an earlier draft.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
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Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
Implicit test stimuli
Pleasant: fair, polite, cheerful, kind, hardworking, beautiful, knowledgeable, honest, opti-
mistic, clean
Unpleasant: unfair, impolite, cheerless, mean, lazy, ugly, ignorant, dishonest, pessimistic,
English: George, Elizabeth, London, Britain, Newton, Robin Hood, Shakespeare, Oxford Uni-
versity, Pound Sterling, BBC
Arabic: Mohammad, Fatimah, Mecca, Jordan, Ibn Khaldun, Hatim al-Tai, Al-Mutanabbi, Cairo
University, Kuwaiti Dinar, Aljazeera
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Correlation tables
Table B1 Zero-order correlations for the male (above the diagonal, n = 257) and female (below
the diagonal, n = 108) subsamples
12345678910 11
1. Attitudes to English
speaking People .45*** .18** .31*** –.17** –.13* –.08 .03 .30*** .18** .08
2. Attitudes to
Language Learning .34*** — .21*** .34*** –.08 .09 .09 .06 .21*** .13* .03
3. Ideal L2 Self .18† .10 .17** –.07 .06 .08 .15* .00 –.09 –.05
4. Ought-to L2 Self .27** .27** .09 .18** .19** .02 .03 .24*** .13* –.09
5. Fear of Assimilation –.02 –.02 –.08 .04 .55*** .35*** .18** –.24*** –.31*** –.27***
6. Ethnocentrism –.04 .22* –.18† .21* .49*** — .52*** .32*** –.17** –.38*** –.19**
7. Religious Attitudes .13 .16† .00 –.02 .30** .38*** .32*** –.12* –.31*** –.21***
Attitudes to Arabs
(SDS) .11 –.01 .02 .02 –.04 .18† .24** — .07 –.70*** –.12*
9. Attitudes to the
English (SDS) .52*** .18† –.09 .08 –.09 .06 –.04 .23* .59*** .10
10. Explicit D Measure .28** .16 –.05 .02 .00 –.12 –.19* –.70*** .49*** — .14*
11. Implicit D Measure –.11 –.09 –.02 .08 –.16† –.06 –.10 –.10 –.16† –.05
Note. SDS = semantic differential scale.
***p .001, ** p .01, * p .05, p< .10.
Table B2 Zero-order correlations for the male participants who had L1 (below the diagonal,
n = 128) and L2 (above the diagonal, n = 129) implicit preference
12345678910 11
1. Attitudes to English
speaking People .50*** .32*** .39*** –.27** –.16† –.20* –.10 .36*** .33*** .09
2. Attitudes to
Language Learning .40*** — .23** .34*** –.23** .11 .05 –.02 .32*** .29*** .03
3. Ideal L2 Self .04 .19* .20* –.10 –.02 –.02 .14 –.04 –.10 –.01
4. Ought-to L2 Self .25** .35*** .14 .12 .15† –.01 –.01 .26** .20* –.07
5. Fear of Assimilation –.06 .08 –.06 .22** — .51*** .39*** .17* –.22** –.30*** –.34***
6. Ethnocentrism –.08 .09 .13 .20* .57*** .55*** .32*** –.11 –.31*** –.22**
7. Religious Attitudes .08 .16† .18* .05 .28*** .47*** — .35*** –.13 –.33*** –.29***
8. Attitudes to Arabs
(SDS) .18* .14 .14 .05 .16† .31*** .27** .00 –.68*** –.19*
9. Attitudes to the
English (SDS) .23** .09 .05 .23** –.25** –.22** –.11 .16† .66*** .15†
10. Explicit D Measure .03 –.04 –.07 .08 –.29*** –.42*** –.26** –.71*** .52*** .21*
11. Implicit D Measure –.03 –.07 .01 –.03 –.11 –.01 –.05 .05 –.01 –.08
Note. SDS = semantic differential scale.
***p .001, ** p .01, * p .05, p< .10.
Unconscious motivation. Part I: Implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
Table B3 Zero-order correlations for the female participants who had L1 (below the diago-
nal, n = 54) and L2 (above the diagonal, n = 54) implicit preference
12345678910 11
1. Attitudes to English
speaking People .61*** .14 .37** .00 –.06 .16 .06 .61*** .36** –.01
2. Attitudes to
Language Learning .05 — .07 .21 .05 .22 .21 .00 .22 .16 .11
3. Ideal L2 Self .20 .12 — .17 –.09 –.20 –.17 –.05 –.04 .08 .29*
4. Ought-to L2 Self .14 .32* .00 .12 .20 –.03 –.02 .12 .08 .15
5. Fear of Assimilation –.10 –.13 –.13 –.08 .54*** .24† .05 –.15 –.09 –.08
6. Ethnocentrism –.02 .22 –.17 .22 .34*** — .39** .22 –.18 –.29* .09
7. Religious Attitudes .08 .12 .14 –.02 .37** .36** .37** .02 –.25† .02
8. Attitudes to Arabs
(SDS) .18 –.02 .09 .07 –.22 .12 .09 — .16 –.76*** –.07
9. Attitudes to the
English (SDS) .41** .14 –.16 .04 –.03 .27* –.11 .30* .47*** –.19
10. Explicit D Measure .16 .16 –.21 –.06 .15 .08 –.13 –.63*** .53*** –.04
11. Implicit D Measure –.10 –.32* –.08 .23† –.07 .06 –.08 –.03 –.15 –.18
Note. SDS = semantic differential scale.
***p .001, ** p .01, * p .05, p< .10.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
SEM measurement and structural models
The measurement model is a confirmatory factor analysis aiming to establish construct va-
lidity, and so both convergent and discriminant validity had to be examined. To examine
convergent validity, i.e., so that the indicators satisfactorily represent their latent constructs,
three aspects were investigated. First, the rule of thumb for the construct reliability is to be
.70 or higher, which was satisfied for the three constructs as shown in Table C1. Second, the
average variance extracted (AVE), as the rule of thumb, should be .50 or higher. Attitudes
toward English-speaking People satisfied this recommendation, but each of the Ideal L2 Self
and Attitudes toward Language Learning had to have one item dropped. This improved their
AVE to a satisfactory level (see Table C1). A final rule of thumb suggests that the standardized
factor loadings of each indicator variable should be .50 or higher. All factor loadings were
statistically significant and higher than this threshold except for one indicator of Attitudes
toward Language Learning that was just under this threshold (.46). The overall trend, there-
fore, suggested acceptable convergent validity. To examine discriminant validity, i.e., to
make sure that the constructs are sufficiently distinct from each other, the recommended
measure is that the AVE values should be greater than their respective inter-construct cor-
relations squared. This was also satisfied, as shown in Table C1. Finally, most of the stand-
ardized residuals did not exceed the recommended threshold of ±2.0, suggesting that the
observed covariance terms fitted the estimated covariance terms. The fit of the measure-
ment model was also acceptable, χ²(175) = 391.517, p < .001, χ²/df = 2.237, GFI = .928, CFI =
.937, RMSEA = .034, PCLOSE = 1.00. These results suggested that the measurement model
was satisfactory and that it was safe to proceed to the structural model.
Table C1 Reliability and validity of the constructs in the measurement model and their inter-
construct correlations
Attitudes to Language Learning
2. Ideal L2 Self
3. Attitudes to English
speaking People
Note. CR = construct reliability, AVE = average variance extracted. Values in the diagonal are the square
roots of their respective AVE.
For the structural model, the measurement invariance assumption was satisfied, indicating
that the groups did not substantially differ in terms of how they understood and re-
sponded to the various items. The residuals of Attitudes toward English-speaking People
and Attitudes toward Language Learning correlated with each other, possibly due to their
shared underlying theme related to aspects of the L2 culture. None of the standardized re-
siduals exceeded ±2.5, suggesting a very good fit between the observed and estimated co-
variance terms. The structural model also had an adequate fit, χ²(75) = 199.701, p < .001,
χ²/df = 2.663, GFI = .943, CFI = .945, RMSEA = .048, PCLOSE = .660. There were no missing
data to handle in this part of the analysis because the computer program reminded the
participant if s/he left an item unanswered.
... As Roeser and Peck (2009) review, these two systems are separate but functionally interdependent, and both systems have to be accounted for in explanations of motivation. To date, most research on language motivation has, at least implicitly, assumed that the learner is a rational individual who is able to recognize and articulate what motivates him or her (Al-Hoorie, 2016a). Recently, however, there has been a resurgence in the interest in unconscious motivation in mainstream motivational psychology, as an increasing number of psychologists are starting to realize the importance of unconscious motivators (see Al-Hoorie, 2015). ...
... Examples include implicit attitudes (Petty, Fazio, & Briñol, 2009), implicit prejudice and stereotypes (Levinson & Smith, 2012), implicit motives (Schultheiss & Brunstein, 2010), implicit self-concept (Briñol, Petty, & Wheeler, 2006), implicit self-determination (Keatley, Clarke, Ferguson, & Hagger, 2014), and implicit self-regulation (Koole, McCullough, Kuhl, & Roelofsma, 2010). It clear that language motivation researchers would benefit from exploring "the other side" of their constructs as well (e.g., Al-Hoorie, 2016a). ...
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The implicit/explicit distinction is central to our understanding of the nature of L2 acquisition. This book begins with an account of how this distinction applies to L2 learning, knowledge and instruction. It then reports a series of studies describing the development of a battery of tests providing relatively discrete measurements of L2 explicit/implicit knowledge. These tests were then utilized to examine a number of key issues in SLA - the learning difficulty of different grammatical structures, the role of L2 implicit/explicit knowledge in language proficiency, the relationship between learning experiences and learners language knowledge profiles, the metalinguistic knowledge of teacher trainees and the effects of different types of form-focused instruction on L2 acquisition. The book concludes with a consideration of how the tests can be further developed and applied in the study of L2 acquisition. © 2009 Rod Ellis, Shawn Loewen, Catherine Elder, Rosemary Erlam, Jenefer Philp and Hayo Reinders. All rights reserved.
This volume presents a new approach to motivation that focuses on the concept of 'vision'. Drawing on visualisation research in sports, psychology and education, the authors describe powerful ways by which imagining future scenarios in one's mind's eye can promote motivation to learn a foreign language. The book offers a rich selection of motivational strategies that can help students to 'see' themselves as potentially competent language users, to experience the value of knowing a foreign language in their own lives and, ultimately, to invest effort into learning it. Transformational leaders' vision for change is one of the prerequisites of turning language classrooms into motivating learning environments, and the second part of the book therefore focuses on how to ignite language teacher enthusiasm, how to re-kindle it when it may be waning and how to guard it when it is under threat.
At a 2012 conference in Austria hosted by the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) Learner Autonomy Special Interest Group, I presented a paper in which I drew together emergent issues and insights from the draft chapters of this volume and explored their resonance with English language teachers and educators working in various European contexts (Ushioda, 2012a). According to the European Commission (2006), English is the most widely used lingua franca across the countries of the European Union, and dominates foreign language curricula in mainstream education in Europe (Eurydice, 2005). Yet, as several contributors to this volume have highlighted, the unquestioned importance ascribed to English in global, national and educational policy terms does not simply translate into unquestioned positive motivation for learners of English, and this dissonance presents significant challenges for teachers at a local level.
This book explores the role of identity in adolescent foreign language learning to provide evidence that an identity-focused approach can make a difference to achievement in education. It uses both in-depth exploratory interviews with language learners and a cross-sectional survey to provide a unique glimpse into the identity dynamics that learners need to manage in their interaction with contradictory relational contexts (e.g. teacher vs. classmates; parents vs. friends), and that appear to impair their perceived competence and declared achievement in language learning. Furthermore, this work presents a new model of identity which incorporates several educational psychology theories (e.g. self-discrepancy, self-presentation, impression management), developmental theories of adolescence and principles of foreign language teaching and learning. This book gives rise to potentially policy-changing insights and will be of importance to those interested in the relationship between self, identity and language teaching and learning.
Cultivating motivation is crucial to a language learner's success - and therefore crucial for the language teacher and researcher to understand. This fully revised edition of a groundbreaking work reflects the dramatic changes the field of motivation research has undergone in recent years, including the impact of language globalisation and various dynamic and relational research methodologies, and offers ways in which this research can be put to practical use in the classroom and in research.