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Cogn Emot. 2014;28(4):577-95. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2013.843506. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

Simultaneous conditioning of valence and arousal.

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a Department of Psychology , The University of Western Ontario , London , ON , Canada.


Evaluative conditioning (EC) refers to the change in the valence of a conditioned stimulus (CS) due to its pairing with a positive or negative unconditioned stimulus (US). To the extent that core affect can be characterised by the two dimensions of valence and arousal, EC has important implications for the origin of affective responses. However, the distinction between valence and arousal is rarely considered in research on EC or conditioned responses more generally. Measuring the subjective feelings elicited by a CS, the results from two experiments showed that (1) repeated pairings of a CS with a positive or negative US of either high or low arousal led to corresponding changes in both CS valence and CS arousal, (2) changes in CS arousal, but not changes in CS valence, were significantly related to recollective memory for CS-US pairings, (3) subsequent presentations of the CS without the US reduced the conditioned valence of the CS, with conditioned arousal being less susceptible to extinction and (4) EC effects were stronger for high arousal than low arousal USs. The results indicate that the conditioning of affective responses can occur simultaneously along two independent dimensions, supporting evidence in related areas that calls for a consideration of both valence and arousal. Implications for research on EC and the acquisition of emotional dispositions are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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