What You Feel Is What You See: A Binding Perspective on Evaluative Conditioning


  • Eva Walther
  • Georg Halbweisen
  • Katarina Blask


In this paper, we outline the predominant theoretical perspectives on evaluative conditioning (EC)—the changes in liking that are due to the pairing of stimuli—identify their weaknesses, and propose a new framework, the binding perspective on EC, which might help to overcome at least some of these issues. Based on feature integration theory (Treisman & Gelade, 1980, https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(80)90005-5) and the theory of event coding (TEC; Hommel, Müsseler, Aschersleben, & Prinz, 2001, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X01000103), we assume that EC depends on a selective integration mechanism that binds relevant CS, US, and action features into an event-file, while simultaneously inhibiting features irrelevant for current goals. This perspective examines hitherto unspecified processes relevant to the encoding of CS-US pairs and their consequences for behavior, which we hope will stimulate further theoretical development. We also present some preliminary evidence for binding in EC and discuss the scope and limitations of this perspective.