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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1986 Feb;50(2):229-38.

On the automatic activation of attitudes.

Abstract

We hypothesized that attitudes characterized by a strong association between the attitude object and an evaluation of that object are capable of being activated from memory automatically upon mere presentation of the attitude object. We used a priming procedure to examine the extent to which the mere presentation of an attitude object would facilitate the latency with which subjects could indicate whether a subsequently presented target adjective had a positive or a negative connotation. Across three experiments, facilitation was observed on trials involving evaluatively congruent primes (attitude objects) and targets, provided that the attitude object possessed a strong evaluative association. In Experiments 1 and 2, preexperimentally strong and weak associations were identified via a measurement procedure. In Experiment 3, the strength of the object-evaluation association was manipulated. The results indicated that attitudes can be automatically activated and that the strength of the object-evaluation association determines the likelihood of such automatic activation. The implications of these findings for a variety of issues regarding attitudes--including their functional value, stability, effects on later behavior, and measurement--are discussed.

PMID:
3701576
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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