Social Cognition and Decision Sciences

Evaluative conditioning of attitudes: Extending a paradigm for investigating the acquisition of generalized attitudes

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Mandy Hütter

In this project, we investigate the acquisition of generalized attitudes by means of evaluative conditioning. Generalized attitudes are attitudes which refer to an attribute or a (social) category. The project is based on a paradigm showing that generalized attitudes can be learned via evaluative conditioning (Hütter, Kutzner & Fiedler, 2014). This means that an attribute which is predictive for the valence of unconditioned stimuli acquires the valence of these stimuli. The boundary conditions under which these effects occur are not yet known. For example, the minimum strength of the relationship necessary for such an effect to occur, is unknown. We are also looking at the consequences of multiple predictive attributes for the acquisition of generalized attitudes. A third branch concerned with illusory correlations investigates whether actual statistical relationships are a necessary condition for the acqusition of generalized attitudes. In sum, the project aims at generalizing the results by Hütter et al. (2014) to different ecological contexts.

Funded by: Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst Baden-Württemberg (01.10.2014 bis 30.09.2018)

Team member: David Tigges, M.Sc.


Hütter, M., & Tigges, D. (2019). On the external validity of evaluative conditioning: Evaluative responses generalize to modified instances of conditioned stimuli. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 84, 103824.