1 Catch Id If You Can: The Introduction


“Catch Me If You Can” was the title of a movie that was released last Christmas, 2002. The main characters were a FBI Agent, Carl Hanratty, and a young con artist, Frank W. Abagnale, who were engaged in a cat and mouse game all throughout the film. In the 1960’s, Frank W. Abagnale became known as an extremely successful master at forging IDs as well as personal and commercial checks. Since Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory became public at the beginning of the last century, catch id if you can attracts the attention of lay and scientific psychology. Freud (1923) considered the id to be the deep, inaccessible part of personality. One may hypothesize about the id impulses that made, for example, someone like Frank W. Abagnale pretend to be someone else at any costs, including the forgery of official documents.

In the last five decades, Social Cognition research has made progress towards finding the tools to identify and measure the “deep, inaccessible” aspects of individuals (e.g., Bless, Fiedler, & Strack, 2003; Greenwald & Banaji, 1995; Wyer & Srull, 1994). Current models conceptualize human behavior and experience as the function of two different systems of information processing, that is, the reflective and the impulsive system (Strack & Deutsch, in press). In the present work, knowledge representations in the reflective and the impulsive system are conceptualized as explicit and implicit representations, respectively. Recently, indirect measures were developed that allow for the assessment of implicit representations. Indirect measures, in contrast to direct questionnaire measures, are chronometric procedures that avoid directly asking the respondents about their judgments. The most influential class of indirect measures used to this date are the Implicit Association Tests (IATs) by Greenwald, McGhee, and Schwartz (1998).

In the present work, I employ indirect measures to assess the implicit personality self-concept, that is, implicit representations of one’s own personality. In three studies, I explore the following psychometric properties of indirect measures using the traits of shyness, anxiousness, and angriness as examples. First, are indirect measures less fakable than direct measures? Second, what is the convergent validity between the IATs and a new class of indirect measures, the Implicit Association Procedures (IAPs)? Third, do indirect measures increase the prediction of behavior? Fourth, do indirect measures allow for the concurrent assessment of different personality traits?


Before I try to answer these questions I wish to thank the following persons who helped me in my work. First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to Elina Yagudayev-Guralnik for stylistic corrections, thoughtful comments, and helpful suggestions concerning my writing. I also would like to thank the lab members of the department of Personality Psychology at Humboldt University, particularly Rainer Banse (now at the University of York), Jaap Denissen, Franz Neyer, and Sarah Teige who shared their theoretical and practical knowledge of psychology during countless collegial chats.

I thank Harald Schneider for technical support, and the following students for their help as experimenters or role play partners: Stefanie Bublitz, Jekatarina Cechini, Andrea Grasse, Susanne Hillenkamp, Vincenzo Kreft, Stephanie Krumnow, Sebastian Kunert, Jana Lüdtke, Dennis Mocigemba, Kristin Müller, Moritz Röhl, Susanne Scheibe, Ulrike Schild, Tanja Schneider, Anja Sussujew, Sarah Teige, Benjamin Uebel, and Anja Weyl.

I am also deeply grateful to Miguel Brendl and Claude Messner for offering the EMA’s Turbo Pascal software, and to Boris Egloff and Monika Wiedig for their helpful comments on the emotion inductions that were used in Study 2. My special thanks to the participants whose willingness to engage in the lab experiments made this research possible.


Last but never least, I wish to thank my advisor, Professor Asendorpf, for all his guidance as well as knowledge shared during the preparation of this work. Considering explicit and implicit representations, I think that I learned a great deal.

This research was partly supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation to Jens B. Asendorpf and Rainer Banse (As 59/9)

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