Evaluative conditioning induces changes in sound valence.Front Psychol. 2012; 3:106.FP
Through evaluative conditioning (EC) a stimulus can acquire an affective value by pairing it with another affective stimulus. While many sounds we encounter daily have acquired an affective value over life, EC has hardly been tested in the auditory domain. To get a more complete understanding of affective processing in auditory domain we examined EC of sound. In Experiment 1 we investigated whether the affective evaluation of short environmental sounds can be changed using affective words as unconditioned stimuli (US). Congruency effects on an affective priming task for conditioned sounds demonstrated successful EC. Subjective ratings for sounds paired with negative words changed accordingly. In Experiment 2 we investigated whether extinction occurs, i.e., whether the acquired valence remains stable after repeated presentation of the conditioned sound without the US. The acquired affective value remained present, albeit weaker, even after 40 extinction trials. These results provide clear evidence for EC effects in the auditory domain. We will argue that both associative as well as propositional processes are likely to underlie these effects.