Implicit Attitude Formation Through Classical Conditioning

966 words 4 pages
Research Article
Michael A. Olson and Russell H. Fazio
Indiana University
Abstract-We sought to demonstrate that attitudes can develop through implicit covariation detection in a new classical conditioning paradigm. In two experiments purportedly about surveillance and vigilance. participants viewed several hundred randomly presented words and images interspersed with critical pairings ofvalenced unconditioned stimuli (USs) with novel conditioned stimuli (CSs). Attitudes toward the novel objects were influenced by the paired USs: In a surprise evaluation task. the CS paired with positive items was evaluated more positively than the CS paired with
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a free lunch). Staats and Staats (1958). in a more tightly controlled experiment, paired each of two national names ("Swedish" and "Dutch") with either 18 positive or 18 negative words by having subjects read the CS tenns as they appeared on a screen (along with four filler national names) while the experimenter read aloud the US tenns. The nation paired with positively valenced tenns was later evaluated more favorably than the one paired with negatively valenced tenns. The attitudinal conditioning effect reported by Staats and Staats
(1958) was presumed to occur without awareness of the CS-US pairings on the part of participants. This is a critical point. because if participants had noticed that, say, "Sweden" was always followed by
"good." then the attitudinal conditioning effect might be explained as a demand artifact (i.e., participants may have been simply reporting what they assumed the experimenter wanted them to report). An alternative explanation, had subjects noticed the CS-US pairings. is that they may have fonned attitudes on the basis of deliberate. expectancyvalue reasoning. As Fishbein and his colleagues have argued. the pairings may have induced participants to consciously infer correspondent beliefs about the attitude object (Fishbein & Ajzen. 1975;


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