Objective: Even though the dual process of aggression is acknowledged as a mediator of violent behavior, few studies have explored the implicit aspect of violence-supportive cognition. The current study advances understanding of the implicit attitude toward violence and suggests evaluative conditioning (EC) as a strategy to change the implicit violence-supportive attitude of juvenile offenders.
Method: A total of 100 juvenile offenders and nonoffenders were randomly assigned to a treatment or control condition, and EC or control intervention was followed depending on the condition. The explicit and implicit attitudes toward violence of the juvenile offender and nonoffender groups were assessed pre- and postintervention by a self-report and implicit association test.
Results: Preintervention results indicated that the offender group revealed a less negative implicit attitude toward violence than the nonoffender group did, whereas there was no significant group difference in the explicit attitude toward violence. Postintervention results showed a significant improvement in the violence implicit association test score after the EC intervention in the treatment condition of the offender group.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that implicit and explicit attitudes could be expressed independently and that juvenile offenders have more implicit violence-supportive cognition than do nonoffenders. EC intervention was found to be an effective method to correct the implicit attitude toward violence of the juvenile offender group, which suggests that specific interventions for violence-supportive implicit attitudes should be considered.