Implicit Attitude Formation Through Classical Conditioning

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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 negative items. This attitudinal conditioning effect was found using both an explicit measure (Experiments I and 2) and an implicit measure (Experiment 2). In a covariation estimation task involving the stimuli presented in the conditioning procedure. participants displayed no explicit memory'for the pairings.

Attitude fonnation. how people come to evaluate objects in the environment positively and negatively, is a long-standing issue in social psychology. A fundamental fonn of attitude acquisition. classical conditioning, has struck the curiosities of not only social psychologists

(e.g., Cacioppo. Marshall-Goodell. Tassinary, & Petty, 1992: Krosnick. Betz. Jussim. Lynn. & Stephens. 1992; Zanna, Kiesler. & Pilkonis, 1970), but marketing and advertising researchers (e.g .• Allen & Janiszewski. 1989: Kim. Allen. & Kardes, 1996; Shimp, Stuart. & Engle. 1991). human learning theorists (e.g .. Baeyens. Eelen. & Van den Bergh. 1990: Hammer! & Grabitz. 1996a. 1996b: Levey & Martin. 1975). and cognitive psychologists (e.g .• Lewicki, 1986) as well. Attitudes are thought to develop via classical conditioning

through repeated pairings of potential attitude objects (conditioned stimuli. CSs) with positively and negatively valenced stimuli...
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