A Declarative Memory Model of Evaluative Conditioning


  • Anne Gast


I propose a Declarative Memory Model (DMM) of evaluative conditioning (EC). EC effects are changes in the valence of a conditioned stimulus (CS) due to previous pairings with a positive or negative unconditioned stimulus (US; e.g., De Houwer, 2007, https://doi.org/10.1017/S1138741600006491). According to the DMM, EC effects are found if (1) a memory trace is formed in the learning phase that links the CS to evaluative information from the US, if (2) this trace survives the retention interval, if (3) the trace or part of it is consciously retrieved when the CS is being evaluated, and if (4) the retrieved trace is used in the CSevaluation. For each of these stages, I make separate predictions about EC effects, many of which are based on empirical research on declarative memory. Where available, I report and discuss empirical evidence on ECthat speaks to these hypotheses. The available empirical evidence is largely in line with the predictions of the DMM. Several predictions, however, have yet to be tested and some findings are ambiguous. While the DMM specifies conditions under which CS-US pairings should lead to a valence change, it does not deny the possibility that other processes might lead to a change in attitude as well. Advantages of the DMM are its foundation on declarative memory research, its applicability for attitude change effects in general, and its suitability for predictions of EC effects in the real world.