Expectancy-learning and evaluative learning in human classical conditioning: affective priming as an indirect and unobtrusive measure of conditioned stimulus valence.Behav Res Ther. 2002 Mar; 40(3):217-34.BR
It has been argued that in classical conditioning two processes might be operative. First, one may learn that the conditioned stimulus (CS+) is a valid predictor for the occurrence of the biologically negative or positive event (US; expectancy-learning). Second, one may learn to perceive the conditioned stimulus itself as a negative or positive stimulus, depending on the valence of the event it has been associated with (evaluative learning). Until the present, however, both forms of learning have been investigated using rather different conditioning procedures. Using a differential aversive conditioning preparation with pictures of human faces as CSs and an electrocutaneous stimulus as US, we were able to demonstrate that both forms of learning can co-occur. Moreover, the extent of evaluative learning in this aversive conditioning procedure did not significantly differ from the amount of evaluative learning in an evaluative conditioning procedure with positive and negative adjectives as USs, which was administered to the same participants. In the present study evaluative learning was not only indexed by direct evaluative ratings, but we introduced affective priming as an indirect and unobtrusive, reaction time based measure of stimulus valence. Finally, imagery instructions during acquisition did not facilitate expectancy-learning nor evaluative learning.