Modifying Task Instructions

The IAT sample includes general instructions that have been written to apply to any standard IAT, regardless of the attributes or targets. However, if you are administering the IAT to a population that doesn't speak English, or that would benefit from additional or specially worded instructions, you can easily modify the text to suit your needs.

If you scroll down below the target category definitions, you'll find the following element, which specifies the text for 7 pages of instructions that appear throughout the IAT. Instructions are defined using the <item> element, just as the attribute and target stimuli were. One difference, however, is that the instruction items formatted with line breaks, which helps make them more readable when presented on the screen.

<item instructions>
/ 1 = "Put your middle or index fingers on the E and I keys of your keyboard. Words representing the categories at the top will appear one-by-one in the middle of the screen. When the item belongs to a category on the left, press the E key; when the item belongs to a category on the right, press the I key. Items belong to only one category. If you make an error, an X will appear - fix the error by hitting the other key.

This is a timed sorting task. GO AS FAST AS YOU CAN while making as few mistakes as possible. Going too slow or making too many errors will result in an uninterpretable score. This task will take about 5 minutes to complete."
/ 2 = "See above, the categories have changed. The items for sorting have changed as well. The rules, however, are the same.

When the item belongs to a category on the left, press the E key; when the item belongs to a category on the right, press the I key. Items belong to only one category. An X appears after an error - fix the error by hitting the other key. GO AS FAST AS YOU CAN."
/ 3 = "See above, the four categories you saw separately now appear together. Remember, each item belongs to only one group. For example, if the categories flower and good appeared on the separate sides above - words meaning flower would go in the flower category, not the good category.

The green and white labels and items may help to identify the appropriate category. Use the E and I keys to categorize items into four groups left and right, and correct errors by hitting the other key."

/ 4 = "Sort the same four categories again. Remember to go as fast as you can while making as few mistakes as possible.

The green and white labels and items may help to identify the appropriate category. Use the E and I keys to categorize items into the four groups left and right, and correct errors by hitting the other key."
/ 5 = "Notice above, there are only two cateogries and they have switched positions. The concept that was previously on the left is now on the right, and the concept that was on the right is now on the left. Practice this new configuration.

Use the E and I keys to catgorize items left and right, and correct errors by hitting the other key."
/ 6 = "See above, the four categories now appear together in a new configuration. Remember, each item belongs to only one group.

The green and white labels and items may help to identify the appropriate category. Use the E and I keys to categorize items into the four groups left and right, and correct errors by hitting the other key."
/ 7 = "Sort the same four categories again. Remember to go as fast as you can while making as few mistakes as possible.

The green and white labels and items may help to identify the appropriate category. Use the E and I keys to categorize items into the four groups left and right, and correct errors by hitting the other key."
</item>

You can modify the instruction pages just as you did the attributes and category items, by simply editing the text within quotation marks.

If you make significant change to the instructions, you might also need to change the size and location at which the text is presented on the screen. The element that controls how instruction text is presented is the following:

<text instructions>
/ items = instructions
/ hjustify = left
/ size = (90%, 60%)
/ position = (50%, 85%)
/ valign = bottom
/ select = instructions
</text>

The <text> element is used to define how a set of text items are presented. The first command in the element, / items = instructions, specifies that the actual text items are defined in an <item> element called "instuctions", which is the <item instruction> element we just covered above. The / hjustify = left command specifies that text should be left justified. You can also set this to "center" or "right" (e.e., for right to left languages like Hebrew). The / size = (90%, 60%) specifies the size of the bounding rectangle in which the text should be presented (and words are wrapped). In this case, the width is 90% of the screen, and the height is 60%. By using percentages, the size will scale across monitors with different display resolutions. The /position = (50%, 85%) command specifies the position on the screen, which is the located horizontally at the midpoint of the screen and 85% of the way veritically towards the bottom. The /valign = bottom command specifies that the bottom of the bounding rectangle containing the text should align with the point on the screen specified by the position command. The rest we'll ignore for now.

Note that if you need to resize the text itself, you can do so using the /fontstyle command. To change the fontstyle, insert the cursor inside the <text instructions> element and select the "Font Wizard" command from the Tools menu. This will launch a graphical font picker that will allow you to choose the font parameters and insert the corresponding /fontstyle command into the script.


Modifying Target Categories Changing Response Keys