Last year, Bertram Gawronski (University of Western Ontario), Luciano Arcuri and Silvia Galdi (both of the University of Padova, Italy) studied a group of 129 residents of Vincenza, Italy during a time when the locals were considering a proposal to expand an American military base.
Using the implicit association test, the researchers were able to predict whether residents who considered themselves undecided would later be for or against the proposal.
During the study, participants were asked to respond as quickly as possible to negative and positive words shown on a computer screen by pressing one key for positive words and another for negative words. During the test, photos of the military base were also shown on the screen. Participants were told which key to press as each image was presented. A slight hesitation in reaction time was found when participants were told to press the key that was opposite the position they eventually chose once they were decided on the issue. The difference in reaction times was typically very small (.1 - .05 seconds), but the difference did predict future positions on the base proposal with a high degree of accuracy.