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Conceptual conditioning: evidence for an artifactual account of evaluative learning

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posted on 2023-06-07, 13:39 authored by Andy FieldAndy Field, G. C. L. Davey
Davey (1994b) has argued that evaluative conditioning may operate through a mechanism of conceptual transfer whereby the pairing of a conceptually neutral CS with a conceptually valenced UCS alerts subjects to the concept-congruent features. This results in subjects reevaluating the CS in terms of these salient conceptual features. An experiment was carried out to test (a) the effects of applying an evaluative conditioning paradigm to a nonaffective concept and (b) whether the number of conceptual features shared by the CS and UCS (i.e., their similarity) would influence learning. The results of the study showed that differential conditioned responding could be achieved using a nonaffective artificial concept: the ratings of conceptually neutral CSs changed after a procedure that paired them with conceptually valenced UCSs. In addition, the conceptual similarity of the stimuli was an important factor in establishing these effects. However, the changes in CS rating observed in the paired condition were also present in both a nonpaired control condition and a no-treatment condition. Further analysis revealed that these conditioning effects were due to the stimuli themselves and not the conditioning procedure. These results suggest that evaluative conditioning studies, which utilize a similar procedure, may also be prone to such artifacts and that apparent learning effects in these studies may simply result from biases in the way in which stimuli are selected and paired. (C) 1997 Academic Press.


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Learning and Motivation







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