Objective: This study investigates if the implicit association test (IAT) can be used to reveal automatic patterns of thought and behaviour in people that self-harm, and to what extent IAT can be a useful tool in clinical settings and in further research.
Method: Literature study. I performed searches in PubMed, EMBASE and PsychINFO. I used
the following combination: implicit association test AND (self-injur* OR suicide OR
attempted suicide OR self-harm). Four articles were found that were relevant for this study.
The reference lists of these articles were searched to find further literature.
Results: The articles vary in respect to which IAT is used. Three of the articles all find that IAT can predict self-harming behaviour beyond that of demographic and psychiatric factors. The fourth article finds a difference in IAT-score before and after treatment that correlates with explicit measures of suicidality.
Conclusion: There are few studies on this subject and to draw a firm conclusion is difficult, but the results suggest that IAT can be used to identify automatic patterns of thought and behaviour, and that it shows potential as a future clinical tool in risk assessment concerning self-injury and suicide attempts.