Reactance in affective‐evaluative learning: Outside of conscious control?

Cognition and Emotion 19 (2):197-216 (2005)
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Abstract

Recent studies have shown that the basic evaluative conditioning (EC) effect (originally neutral stimuli acquiring an affective value congruent with the valence of the affective stimulus they were paired with) seems to be limited to participants who are unaware of the stimulus pairings. If participants are aware of the pairings, reactance effects occur (i.e., changes in the opposite direction of the valence of the affective stimulus). To examine whether these reactance effects are due to processes of conscious countercontrol or whether the ratings reflect intrinsic feelings towards the stimuli, a new procedure was developed that included a bogus‐pipeline condition. In this procedure, which was adapted from attitude research, participants were connected to bogus lie detector equipment leading them to believe that their “true” affective‐evaluative responses were being observed. In Experiment 1, reactance effects occurred also in this procedure, suggesting that the effect is spontaneous and not due to processes of conscious countercontrol. In Experiment 2, these effects were replicated using a between‐subjects design in addition to the standard within‐subjects control condition.

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