Is evaluative conditioning really uncontrollable? A comparative test of three emotion-focused strategies to prevent the acquisition of conditioned preferences

Bertram Gawronski, Derek G. V. Mitchell, Robert Balas
2015 Emotion  
Evaluative conditioning (EC) is defined as the change in the evaluation of a conditioned stimulus (CS) because of its pairing with a valenced unconditioned stimulus (US). Counter to views that EC is the product of automatic learning processes, recent research has revealed various characteristics of nonautomatic processing in EC. The current research investigated the controllability of EC by testing the effectiveness of 3 emotion-focused strategies in preventing the acquisition of conditioned
more » ... ferences: (a) suppression of emotional reactions to the US, (b) reappraisal of the valence of the US, and (c) facial blocking of emotional responses. Although all 3 strategies reduced EC effects on self-reported evaluations by impairing recollective memory for CS-US pairings, they were ineffective in reducing EC effects on an evaluative priming measure. Regardless of the measure, effective control did not depend on the level of arousal elicited by the US. The results suggest that the 3 strategies can influence deliberate CS evaluations through memory-related processes, but they are ineffective in reducing EC effects on spontaneous evaluative responses. Implications for mental process theories of EC are discussed.
doi:10.1037/emo0000078 pmid:25915000 fatcat:tglgtpgv3zhj7p3pkjpznfc3qy