Evaluative Conditioning with "Not"


Alyssa Sinner

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People can be conditioned to think of nouns more or less positively when they have been paired with positive or negative adjectives, a phenomenon called Evaluative Conditioning. The first aim of this study was to replicate findings by Staats and Staats (1958) that names can be conditioned to be thought of more or less pleasantly when paired with positive or negative adjectives. However, the findings were not replicated and no conditioning was observed. Proposed factors contributing to this lack of conditioning are that the conditioned names were not equally liked before conditioning, and a lack of power. This study also examined the effects of using “not” before the adjectives to see if people integrated the meaning of “not + adjective” or if the meaning of the adjective itself is still what was conditioned. The results showed a gender difference, in that males tended to follow the pattern of integrating “not” into the phrase, while females tended to be conditioned only to the adjective itself.

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