Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Douglas H. Wedell


In evaluative conditioning, the affective response toward a neutral stimulus is altered by pairing it with a positive or negative stimulus. One behavioral and two eye tracking studies were conducted to investigate how evaluative conditioning operates on consumer preferences by pairing neutral products with valenced music and using multiple product exemplars and test trials in order to test evaluative effects at the individual level. Study 1 showed an overall positive effect of evaluative conditioning on choice and liking ratings, although there were individual differences in the magnitude and direction of the effect. Study 2 found significant results at the individual level, resulting in three groups based on preferences in choice. Consistent with inferred group differences in conditioning, those who showed positive conditioning effects looked longer and more often at the positively paired products and those with negative conditioning effects showed the opposite pattern. Additionally, valence condition was decodable from the overall pattern of eye movements during conditioning for the majority of participants. Study 3 included product attribute information during testing and found that more time was spent looking at attributes of negatively paired products. Study 3 also showed the same group by valence interaction for looking time and number of looks as in Study 2. Across the three studies, conditioning produced the predicted effects for approximately 42% of participants, effects in the opposite direction for 24%, and no significant effects for 33%. These results indicate clear individual differences in the effects of evaluative conditioning, some of which can be predicted by looking behavior.