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Social Psychological Bulletin 13(3) (2018)
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Evaluative Conditioning – Theoretical Accounts
Robert Balas & Yoav Bar-Anan
In the special issue, we would like to present a number of short papers that present models for the EC effect, as succinctly but also as explicitly as possible. The idea is to provide short and useful descriptions of each of the available EC models (and new models or perspectives), and their answers to central open questions about the EC effect. These papers will help clarify the specific assumptions derived from each model. The papers will also inform readers what questions the models do not answer, and specify what is still missing in each model and require further theorization (perhaps most models do not yet have specific predictions for many questions. It would help the field if that is explicitly stated). Introduction: what are the basic hypotheses of the model? These are the hypotheses required for deriving the answers to the more specific questions below. Describe as many hypotheses as you think are necessary the model from other models. How does exposure to stimulus co-occurrence change evaluative response? Please describe the process in as much details as the model provides, possibly omitting details mentioned later. What is stored in memory? What is the information stored in memory that later translates into evaluative response when encountering the CS? This section will explain whether the model assumes storage of information in the form of association, relation, specific relation (“CS co-occurs with US”, “CS is good”). This section will explain what mental representations are associated or related to the CS -- e.g., an evaluative response, the US, valence, evaluation. Are there important processes that occur over time between initial acquisition and evaluative response? Does the model assume any dependence on specific consolidation processes? Or, do typical memory processes (like forgetting) apply to the stored results of pairing. Does EC depend on automatic or deliberate processes during acquisition? If both, does the model specify different conditions in which one process would be more influential than the other? Are there different outcomes based on whether the process was automatic or deliberate? Provided that automaticity is a broad concept, which of its aspects are important during acquisition (controllability, awareness, cognitive/attentional resources)? Does stimulus co-occurrence have different effects on deliberate versus automatic evaluative response? Or, perhaps, there are different moderators at acquisition and/or later that would determine whether stimulus co-occurrence has different effect on deliberate versus automatic evaluative response? What is the role of awareness in EC? Does awareness have any causal role at acquisition, consolidation, or expression? Is awareness an inevitable result of the processes at play at acquisition, consolidation, or expression? Please distinguish between different types of awareness relevant for EC: the perception of the stimuli, the general fact that stimuli co-occur with other stimuli, the general fact that stimuli co-occur with specific valence, the exact pairing with stimuli (what stimuli co-occur), the exact pairing with valence (what stimuli co-occur with each valence), the change in evaluation, the effect of stimulus co-occurrence on evaluation, the experimenter's’ hypothesis (e.g., perhaps awareness to the experimenter’s hypothesis cancels or changes the effect). How do relational qualifiers present at acquisition influence EC? The relational qualifiers can be verbal or more implicit cues that might suggest a relation between the CS and the US. Is a perception of pairings even possible without their relational aspects? Is EC inevitable when stimuli co-occur? Can people control EC? Are there factors that might stifle EC? Please notice that if another factor influences evaluation, this does not mean it had any effect on EC because stimulus co-occurrence and other factors might have independent effects on evaluative response, which might be the summary of both effects. The question is whether other factors interact (eliminate, decrease, increase) with the effect of stimulus co-occurrence on evaluative response. Does the model assume specific factors that would moderate EC? In addition to the moderators specified in other questions, how would factors such as goals, attention, and cognitive resources moderate EC? Are there any other important moderators derived from the model’s assumptions? How does verbal information about the CS-US co-occurrence (instruction) change CS evaluation? Does the model allow for instruction to influence evaluations before and/or after learning? Is it by the same encoding-storage-expression processes hypothesized for EC after exposure to CS-US co-occurrence or the result of different processes? Does the model predict sensitivity to statistical CS-US contingency or CS-US contiguity? According to the model, would EC occur only when the CS-US statistical contingency is above a certain rate? Would EC occur only after a certain number of pairings? Does the model predict that EC would be sensitive to later presentations of CS or US alone (i.e., show extinction)? Does the model predict any individual differences at any stage (acquisition, storage, expression) of evaluative learning? Does the model specify (and how) differences between types of paired stimuli? Are there any specific categories of stimuli that are assumed to produce different EC outcomes? Are there any important predictions, not mentioned previously, that would be central for testing the model?