Subliminal evaluative conditioning? Above-chance CS identification may be necessary and insufficient for attitude learning
Authors: Christoph Stahl, Julia Haaf, and Olivier Corneille
Previous research has claimed that evaluative conditioning (EC) effects may obtain in the absence of perceptual identification of conditioned stimuli (CSs). A recent meta-analysis suggested similar effect sizes for supra- and subliminal CSs, but this was based on a small body of evidence (k = 8 studies; Hofmann et al., 2010). We critically discuss this prior evidence, and then report and discuss six experimental studies that investigate EC effects for briefly presented CSs using more stringent methods. Across these studies, we varied CS duration, the presence or absence of masking, the presence or absence of a CS identification check, CS material, and the instructions communicated to participants. EC effects for longer-duration CSs were modulated by attention to the CS-US pairing. Across studies, we were consistently unable to obtain EC for briefly presented CSs. In most studies, this pattern was observed despite above-chance perceptual identification of the CSs. A meta-analysis conducted across the 27 experimental conditions supported the null hypothesis of no EC for perceptually unidentified CSs. We conclude that EC effects for briefly presented and masked CSs are either not robust, are very small, or are limited to specific conditions that remain to be identified (or any combination of these).
This repository contains the (revised) manuscript (main.pdf, click here to download), as well as data, code, and materials necessary to reproduce the manuscript (download entire project and open main.Rmd in RStudio).
The (revised) manuscript is in press at JEP:General.