Evaluative conditioning occurs when a person changes how he or she views a previously neutral stimulus. Because EC changes how people consider previously neutral stimuli, it takes a central role in helping us understand how different human preferences develop, and it is thus very important to research. The aspect of evaluative conditioning that this paper focused on was whether or not awareness of what the neutral stimulus was paired with impacted how the participant’s view of the stimulus changed. This experiment used a computer program to examine whether or not awareness is necessary for evaluative conditioning to occur. Participants were introduced to the different stimuli (varying neutral spacecraft) during a distractor task where each stimulus was paired with a specific positive or negative sound. Both item awareness (what the neutral stimulus was paired with) and valence awareness (if the neutral stimulus was paired with a positive or negative sound) of the spacecraft were evaluated for each participant. To do this, explicit measures in the form of a questionnaire and implicit measures using a modified Brief Implicit Association Test were utilized. Participants were 54 Cornell students, most of whom were in psychology classes. Results indicated that item awareness had no significant impact on evaluative conditioning occurring amongst the participants. However, there was a small effect seen in the trials where participants were valence aware of the stimuli pairings, which supports the notion that valence awareness is necessary for evaluative conditioning effects to be observed.
Marco Renzi, ’15
Sponsor: Suzette Astley