Heycke, Tobias (2018). Contingency Awareness in Evaluative Conditioning: Investigations Using Subliminal Stimulus Presentations. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Abstract

Evaluative conditioning (EC) describes a change in preference towards a formerly neutral stimulus (Conditioned Stimulus; CS) after this stimulus is paired with a valent stimulus (Unconditioned Stimulus; US), in the direction of the valence of the US. Evaluative conditioning is proposed as a mechanism of automatic preference acquisition in dual-process theories of attitudes (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006). An automatic route to preference acquisition entails that people do not need to be aware of the CS-US contingency in order for EC effects to develop. To experimentally investigate whether EC effects persist without peoples’ awareness, stimuli (e.g., the CS) are presented subliminally (i.e., too briefly to be consciously perceived). When the CS is presented subliminally, contingency awareness between CS and US can be ruled out. Hence, EC effects with subliminal CSs would support theories claiming that contingency awareness is not necessary for EC effects to occur. Studies demonstrating an EC effect with subliminally presented stimuli are reviewed and the stability of the described subliminal EC effect is evaluated. A series of replication studies and additional experiments were conducted to investigate possible boundary conditions for EC effects to occur with subliminally presented stimuli. Specifically, it was tested whether the following features would be beneficial for EC effects with subliminally presented stimuli: (I) goal-relevance during the learning procedure and a relation between CS and US (II) subliminal US presentation with additional counter-attitudinal information (III) choice between CSs after the learning phase as a potentially more sensitive measure of conditioning effects and (IV) a simultaneous presentation of CS and US. Across the experiments, indications for the absence of EC effects with subliminal stimuli were discovered. Additional findings hint to the possibility that subliminal EC effects that were previously found, might have been based on briefly presented—but visible—stimulus presentations. The findings lead to the conclusion that EC does not form automatically. Theoretical implications about the nature of EC are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Heycke, Tobiast.heycke@uni-koeln.deUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-84520
Subjects: Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
KeywordsLanguage
Evaluative ConditioningEnglish
subliminal influenceEnglish
Faculty: Faculty of Human Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Human Sciences > Department Psychologie
Language: English
Date: July 2018
Date of oral exam: 18 July 2018
Referee:
NameAcademic Title
Stahl, ChristophProf. Dr.
Unkelbach, ChristianProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/8452

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