Our Implicit Methods

Split Second Research has developed a set of implicit association tests and neuromarketing research tools that provide accurate insights into consumer behaviour. Used with our traditional, explicit market research tools, we provide a complete market research service.

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Subconscious, implicit associations are measured in a split-second


Our brains are massive parallel networks that work on the principle of association – that when you think of one thing it triggers another thought. In addition, the brain constructs emotional associations based on learned experience, and these drive behaviour. Neuromarketing methods can reveal these emotional associations that people have about brands, products, and services. They are often experienced as ‘gut reactions’ and feelings that are hard to describe in words. Using implicit research techniques, we gain more accurate research insights and dig deeper into consumer behaviour.

When it comes to market research, there are 3 key things we know about consumers:



Consumers don’t know the truth.

Consumers don’t always know the truth of how they feel, and may be unable to express it. Only around 20% of people have the necessary linguistic skills to articulate exactly how they feel. Most people have surprisingly poor self-insight and so are unable to express how they feel. Most people also find it difficult to express their opinion with clarity.


Consumers don’t often tell the truth.

People are naturally prone to social biases and conformity to the norm. Some may be too embarrassed to try work out how they truly feel. They may also try too hard to please the researcher, so just respond in the way they think the researcher expects or wants them to.


Consumers don’t always do what they say.

Consumers may tell you that they would buy your product, but when it’s on the shelf, they actually choose not to. This is often due to an instinctual and unconscious decision process they may not be aware of ahead of time. Around 40% of all new products fail within the first year of launch and 30% of businesses fail in the first two years. It may be very risky to rely on what consumers tell you explicitly. If you were to base your business decisions on what people say they will do, then it could cost you dearly. 

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The tool that market researchers and brand managers have always been searching for – is here!

Given that it is very difficult to abstract how consumers really feel, another tool is needed, and implicit response testing is the answer. Implicit and other neuromarketing research holds the promise to unlock deep seated consumer attitudes. Using the analogy of an archaeological dig, implicit tests, like Split Second’s Impress Test, can help uncover the hidden drivers in the consumer’s mind.

How does implicit testing work?


Implicit Association Tests (IAT) or Implicit Reaction Time Tests (IRT) measure an individual’s attitude or beliefs towards certain concepts or topics. We use the affective priming paradigm to measure the strength of the associations that the brain stores subconsciously. For example, whenever we may think of the brand Apple, our brains will activate related associations, such as “stylish”, “creative”, or “high quality”, depending on your subconscious bias. IRT measures these associations, giving you a clearer idea of your brand associations.


A more objective measure of respondents’ true feelings towards your brand.

Through implicit tests we can capture these split second associations, generating a more objective measure of respondents’ feelings towards brands than what we can get by asking directly. This understanding of your target audience’s true, subconscious feelings can make a huge difference when planning a strategy.

In an implicit test, respondents do not make explicit choices. The test is an objective measure and is very difficult to fake.


Implicit association tests work by flashing words and images on the screen and by asking respondents to react to them as quickly as possible.  By measuring their reaction times, we can get an understanding of their inner feelings, attitudes, and personal characteristics. Implicit response tasks work by trying to influence reaction times of relatively easy recognition tests. This is known as affective priming (Fazio et al., 1995). The test and analysis is complex, however, in its simplest form, when feelings are consistent with stimuli presented on the screen, reaction times are quick, when they are inconsistent, reaction times are slow. 



Fazio, R. H., Jackson, J. R., Dunton, B. C. & Williams, C. J. (1995). Variability in automatic activation as an unobtrusive measure of racial attitudes: A bona fide pipeline. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 1013-1027.

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We capture a more objective (truer) measure of feelings towards the brands than by asking explicitly. 

Our fully developed research platforms allow us to build standardised tests rapidly, gather data quickly, and analyse data automatically.


These implicit reaction time tests (IRTs) can be taken online, at a central location, or even by going to people’s homes. The tests can be taken on most computing devices (desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and smart phone) and most operating systems (Windows 7 and above, Apple IOS, android, Windows mobile, and so on).

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Dr Eamon Fulcher, CEO of Split Second Research Certamente Conference


Want to see what we can do for your brand? 

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