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Unconscious attitudes toward L2 native speakers

Unconscious Attitudes toward L2 Native Speakers
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Paper presented at the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)
(September, 3–5, 2015, Aston University)
Since Gardner and Lambert’s (1959) seminal study, second language (L2) motivation has always
been construed as a conscious, deliberative process that can be measured to a satisfactory extent
by self-report questionnaires (e.g., Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011; Gardner, 2010). This paper tries to
break this conventional wisdom by presenting empirical results supporting the significance of
implicit (i.e., unconscious) attitudes and demonstrating how to measure them.
Arabic L1 adults and young adults (N = 365) completed the Implicit Association Test
(Greenwald et al., 1998) that examined their implicit attitudes toward L2 native speakers, as well
as a self-report questionnaire that examined their explicit attitudes. The results showed that 1)
explicit–implicit congruence was associated with stronger affiliation with L2 speakers, 2)
learners with negative implicit attitudes were too heterogeneous to be considered a single group,
and 3) implicit attitudes moderated the relationship between (explicit) attitudes toward L2
speakers and the ideal L2 self.
The paper concludes by arguing that unconscious attitudes constitute a second dimension to L2
motivation in addition to the conscious dimension: Learners might score highly on both, either,
or none; and each of these possibilities may have a differential effect on L2 learning.
Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, U. (2011). Teaching and Researching Motivation (2nd ed.). Harlow,
UK: Pearson.
Gardner, R. C. (2010). Motivation and Second Language Acquisition: The Socio-Educational
Model. New York: Peter Lang.
Gardner, R. C., & Lambert, W. E. (1959). Motivational variables in second-language acquisition.
Canadian Journal of Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie, 13(4), 266–272.
Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. (1998). Measuring individual differences in
implicit cognition: The Implicit Association Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
74(6), 1464–1480.
... According to one survey (Nosek et al., 2011a), the IAT accounts for about half of all research using indirect measures. Some of this research has also targeted language learners and teachers (Al-Hoorie, 2016a, 2017a, 2017bHarrison & Lakin, 2018a, 2018bMcKenzie & Carrie, 2018). This chapter describes the IAT, its psychometric properties, and its contribution to research, before making suggestions for future language research. ...
Full-text available
In the 19th century, Donders (1868/1969) argued that although psychologists could not directly observe mental processes, they could still infer them through performance speed in response to different stimuli. Donders described several experiments reporting different latencies depending on, for example, whether an object was placed to the right or left and whether the participant was using their right or left hand. A century later, researchers started investigating automatic stereotypes (Gaertner & McLaughlin, 1983) and automatic attitudes (Fazio et al., 1986) through sequential priming tasks. In a sequential priming task, the participant is first presented with a prime stimulus (e.g., Pleasant) and then with a target stimulus (e.g., Rose). The participant is to make a quick decision regarding the second stimulus (e.g., to classify it as Flower or Insect). A priming effect occurs when the similarity between the two stimuli makes the response speed faster than if the first prime stimulus was, for example, Disgusting.
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