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J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2009 Apr;35(2):286-91. doi: 10.1037/a0013255.

Evaluative learning with single versus multiple unconditioned stimuli: the role of contingency awareness.

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  • 1Institute for Psychology, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


Evaluative conditioning (EC) is obtained when an initially neutral conditioned stimulus (CS) becomes evaluated positively (negatively) after being paired with an evaluatively positive (negative) unconditioned stimulus (US). Most EC studies have paired a given CS with a single US, but EC has also been obtained when a CS was paired with multiple USs of the same valence. This study compares how both variants of CS-US pairing affect awareness for CS-US pairings and ultimately EC effects. EC was assessed directly and indirectly, using evaluative ratings and the Extrinsic Affective Simon Task. Memory for US identity and US valence was assessed to investigate effects of awareness. The multiple-US condition showed attenuated EC effects compared with the single-US condition. The direct measure showed EC effects when awareness of US valence or US identity was present. The indirect measure showed EC effects only when awareness of US identity was present. Results are discussed with regard to the role of contingency awareness in EC.

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