The past 50 years have seen an accumulation of evidence suggesting that associative learning depends on high-level cognitive processes that give rise to propositional knowledge. Yet, many learning theorists maintain a belief in a learning mechanism in which links between mental representations are formed automatically. We characterize and highlight the differences between the propositional and link approaches, and review the relevant empirical evidence. We conclude that learning is the consequence of propositional reasoning processes that cooperate with the unconscious processes involved (...) in memory retrieval and perception. We argue that this new conceptual framework allows many of the important recent advances in associative learning research to be retained, but recast in a model that provides a firmer foundation for both immediate application and future research. (shrink)
Standard dual-process models in the action domain postulate that stimulus-driven processes are responsible for suboptimal behavior because they take them to be rigid and automatic and therefore the default. We propose an alternative dual-process model in which goal-directed processes are the default instead. We then transfer the dual- process logic from the action domain to the emotion domain. This reveals that emotional behavior is often attributed to stimulus-driven processes. Our alternative model submits that goal-directed processes could be the primary determinant (...) of emotional behavior instead. We evaluate the type of empirical evidence required for validating our model and we consider implications of our model for behavior change, encouraging strategies focused on the expectancies and values of action outcomes. (shrink)
Theory suggests that stimulus evaluations automatically evoke approach–avoidance behavior. However, the extent to which approach–avoidance behavior is triggered automatically is not yet clear. Furthermore, the nature of automatically triggered approach–avoidance behavior is controversial. We review research on two views on the type of approach–avoidance behavior that is triggered automatically (arm flexion/extension, distance change). Present evidence supports the distance-change view and corroborates the notion of an automatic pathway from evaluation to distance-change behavior. We discuss underlying mechanisms (direct stimulus–response links, outcome anticipations, (...) goals) as well as implications regarding the flexibility of the evaluation–behavior link. (shrink)
Evaluative conditioning (EC) is one of the terms that is used to refer to associatively induced changes in liking. Many controversies have arisen in the literature on EC. Do associatively induced changes in liking actually exist? Does EC depend on awareness of the fact that stimuli are associated? Is EC resistant to extinction? Does attention help or hinder EC? As an introduction to this special issue, we will discuss the extent to which the papers that are published in this issue (...) help to resolve some of the controversies that surround EC. We also speculate about possible boundary conditions of EC and attempt to reconcile conflicting results on the functional properties of EC. (shrink)
Previous research showed that the repeated approaching of one stimulus and avoiding of another stimulus typically leads to more positive evaluations of the former stimuli. In the current study, we examined whether approach and avoidance training effects on evaluations of neutral stimuli can be modulated by introducing a regularity between the approach-avoidance actions and a positive or negative stimulus. In an AAT task, participants repeatedly approached one neutral non-word and avoided another neutral non-word. Half of the participants also approached a (...) negative fear-conditioned stimulus and avoided a conditioned safe stimulus. The other half of the participants avoided the CS+ and approached the CS−. Whereas participants in the avoid CS+ condition exhibited a typical AAT effect, participants in the approach CS+ condition exhibited a reversed AAT effect. These findings provide evidence for the malleability of the AAT effect when strongly valenced stimuli are approached or avoided. We discuss the practical and theoretical implications of our findings. (shrink)
The challenge of convincing people to change their eating habits towards more environmentally sustainable food consumption (ESFC) patterns is becoming increasingly pressing. Food preferences, choices and eating habits are notoriously hard to change as they are a central aspect of people’s lifestyles and their socio-cultural environment. Many people already hold positive attitudes towards sustainable food, but the notable gap between favorable attitudes and actual purchase and consumption of more sustainable food products remains to be bridged. The current work aims to (...) 1) present a comprehensive theoretical framework for future research on ESFC, and 2) highlight behavioral solutions for environmental challenges in the food domain from an interdisciplinary perspective. First, starting from the premise that food consumption is deliberately or unintentionally directed at attaining goals, a goal-directed framework for understanding and influencing ESFC is built. To engage in goal-directed behavior, people typically go through a series of sequential steps. The proposed theoretical framework makes explicit the sequential steps or hurdles that need to be taken for consumers to engage in ESFC. Consumers need to positively value the environment, discern a discrepancy between the desired versus the actual state of the environment, opt for action to reduce the experienced discrepancy, intend to engage in behavior that is expected to bring them closer to the desired end state, and act in accordance with their intention. Second, a critical review of the literature on mechanisms that underlie and explain ESFC (or the lack thereof) in high-income countries is presented and integrated into the goal-directed framework. This contribution thus combines a top-down conceptualization with a bottom-up literature review; it identifies and discusses factors that might hold people back from ESFC and interventions that might promote ESFC; and it reveals knowledge gaps as well as insights on how to encourage both short- and long-term ESFC by confronting extant literature with the theoretical framework. Altogether, the analysis yields a set of 33 future research questions in the interdisciplinary food domain that deserve to be addressed with the aim of fostering ESFC in the short and long term. (shrink)
Evaluative learning refers to the change in the affective evaluation of a previously neutral stimulus that occurs after the stimulus has been associated with a second, positive or negative, affective stimulus . Four experiments are reported in which the AS was presented very briefly. Significant evaluative learning was observed in participants who did not notice the presentation of the affective stimuli or could not discriminate between the briefly presented positive and negative ASi when asked to do so . In two (...) other experiments , no significant learning effect was obtained. A meta-analysis performed on the present and previously reported results gave evidence for a small, though statistically reliable evaluative learning effect when ASi are presented “subliminally.” This finding supports the hypothesis that evaluative associations can be learned implicitly. (shrink)
Many views define the concept of automaticity in terms of a number of features, but they differ with regard to the features they put most emphasis on, as well as with regard to the coherence they assume among the features. One contemporary account is the gradual and decompositional view, which proposes to investigate each automaticity feature separately and determine the degree to which it is present. In this chapter, we engage in a detailed analysis of the most important features in (...) order to examine whether they can indeed be regarded as gradual, and whether they can be conceptually and logically separated. (shrink)
We introduce the Relational Responding Task (RRT) as a tool for capturing beliefs at the implicit level. Flemish participants were asked to respond as if they believed that Flemish people are more intelligent than immigrants (e.g., respond “true” to the statement “Flemish people are wiser than immigrants”) or to respond as if they believed that immigrants are more intelligent than Flemish people (e.g., respond “true” to the statement “Flemish people are dumber than immigrants”). The difference in performance between these two (...) tasks correlated with ratings of the extent to which participants explicitly endorsed the belief that Flemish people are more intelligent than immigrants and with questionnaire measures of subtle and blatant racism. The current study provides a first step towards validating RRT effects as a viable measure of implicit beliefs. (shrink)
In three experiments, each of a set colour-unrelated distracting words was presented most often in a particular target print colour . In Experiment 1, half of the participants were told the word-colour contingencies in advance and half were not . The instructed group showed a larger learning effect. This instruction effect was fully explained by increases in subjective awareness with instruction. In Experiment 2, contingency instructions were again given, but no contingencies were actually present. Although many participants claimed to be (...) aware of these contingencies, they did not produce an instructed contingency effect. In Experiment 3, half of the participants were given contingency instructions that did not correspond to the correct contingencies. Participants with these false instructions learned the actual contingencies worse than controls. Collectively, our results suggest that conscious contingency knowledge might play a moderating role in the strength of implicit learning. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAcross two studies participants completed a learning phase comprised of two types of trials: context pairing trials in which two words were identical or opposite to one another and evaluative conditioning trials in which a CS was paired with a US. Based on the idea that EC occurs because CS-US pairings function as a symbolic cue about the relation between the CS and the US, we hypothesised that the nature of context pairings might moderate EC effects. Results indicate that identity-based (...) context pairs led to typical assimilative explicit and implicit effects whereas opposition-based pairs led to attenuated effects. Implications and different accounts of our findings are discussed. (shrink)
We applaud De Neys for drawing attention to the interaction between intuiting and deliberating without committing to single- or dual process models. It remains unclear, however, how he conceptualizes the distinction between intuiting and deliberating. We propose several levels at which the distinction can be made and discuss the merits of defining intuiting and deliberating as different types of behavior.
Recent studies show that when words are correlated with the colours they are printed in, colour identification is faster when the word is presented in its correlated colour than in an uncorrelated colour. The present series of experiments explored the possible mechanisms involved in this colour-word contingency learning effect. Experiment 1 demonstrated that the effect is already present after 18 learning trials. During subsequent unlearning, the effect extinguished equally rapidly. Two reanalyses of data from Schmidt, Crump, Cheesman, and Besner ruled (...) out an account of the effect in terms of stimulus repetitions. Experiment 2 demonstrated that participants who carry a memory load do not show a contingency effect, supporting the hypothesis that limited-capacity resources are required for learning. Experiment 3 demonstrated that memory resources are required for both storage and retrieval processes. (shrink)
The evaluative conditioning effect refers to the change in the liking of a neutral stimulus due to its pairing with another stimulus. We examined whether the extinction rate of the EC effect is moderated by feature-specific attention allocation. In two experiments, CSs were abstract Gabor patches varying along two orthogonal, perceptual dimensions. During the acquisition phase, one of these dimensions was predictive of the valence of the USs. During the extinction phase, CSs were presented alone and participants were asked to (...) categorise the CSs either according to their valence, the perceptual dimension that was task-relevant during the acquisition phase, or a perceptual dimension that was task-irrelevant during the acquisition phase. As predicted, explicit valence measures revealed a linear increase in the extinction rate of the EC effect as participants were encouraged to assign attention to non-evaluative stimulus information during the extinction phase. In Experiment 1, Affect Misattribution Paradigm data mimicked this pattern of results, although the effect just missed conventional levels of significance. In Experiment 2, the AMP data revealed an increase of the EC effect if attention was focused on evaluative stimulus information. Potential mechanisms to explain these findings are discussed. (shrink)
We develop a new perspective on various forms of psychological suffering – including attachment issues, burn-out, and fatigue complaints – by drawing on the construct of learned helplessness. We conceptualise learned helplessness in operant terms as the behavioural effects of a lack of reinforcement and in goal-directed terms as the dysregulation of goal-directed behaviour. Our central claim is that if one fails to reach a goal (e.g. the goal to secure a job), then not only this goal but also other (...) related goals (e.g. the goal to maintain social relationships) may lose their motivating effects. The similarity relation between goal stimuli can therefore shed light on how failure in one life domain can come to affect various other life domains. We detail the relation between our proposal and existing theories and discuss new research and clinical directions. (shrink)
In this response, we provide further clarification of the propositional approach to human associative learning. We explain why the empirical evidence favors the propositional approach over a dual-system approach and how the propositional approach is compatible with evolution and neuroscience. Finally, we point out aspects of the propositional approach that need further development and challenge proponents of dual-system models to specify the systems more clearly so that these models can be tested.