Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Douglas H. Wedell

Abstract

One eye tracking and one behavioral experiment examined the possible roles of contingency awareness and attention to stimulus features in evaluative conditioning. These experiments tested whether evaluative conditioning altered the saliency of positive and negative features in consumer products (Study 1) and attitudinal responses to ambivalent pictures (Study 2). Based on the conceptual categorization model, pairing of ambivalent conditioned stimuli with liked or disliked unconditioned stimuli was predicted to result in enhanced attention to affectively congruent features. Study 1 tested this prediction by recording eye movements to determine how attention to features and responses to ambivalent stimuli were altered as a result of conditioning. Counter to the predictions of the conceptual categorization model, pairing of ambivalent products with liked or disliked music did not result in greater attention to affectively congruent features as measured by looking time and frequency. Overall, target features that were inconsistent in valence with the unconditioned stimulus were looked at longer and more frequently. Studies 1 and 2 tested whether conditioning effects were consistent with predictions from explicit process models that contingency awareness should positively correlate with conditioning effects. Study 2 was more strongly powered to detect this relation and showed that contingency awareness was a significant predictor of conditioning effects, consistent with an explicit mechanism in evaluative conditioning. Results from these studies demonstrate evaluative conditioning of ambivalent stimuli that is not likely due to enhanced attention to affectively congruent features and that is consistent with explicit processing accounts.

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