Is evaluative conditioning really resistant to extinction? Evidence for changes in evaluative judgements without changes in evaluative representations.Cogn Emot. 2015; 29(5):816-30.CE
Evaluative conditioning (EC) is defined as the change in the evaluation of a conditioned stimulus (CS) due to its pairing with a positive or negative unconditioned stimulus (US). Although several individual studies suggest that EC is unaffected by unreinforced presentations of the CS without the US, a recent meta-analysis indicates that EC effects are less pronounced for post-extinction measurements than post-acquisition measurements. The disparity in research findings suggests that extinction of EC may depend on yet unidentified conditions. In an attempt to uncover these conditions, three experiments (N = 784) investigated the influence of unreinforced post-acquisition CS presentations on EC effects resulting from simultaneous versus sequential pairings and pairings with single versus multiple USs. For all four types of CS-US pairings, EC effects on self-reported evaluations were reduced by unreinforced CS presentations, but only when the CSs had been rated after the initial presentation of CS-US pairings. EC effects on an evaluative priming measure remained unaffected by unreinforced CS presentations regardless of whether the CSs had been rated after acquisition. The results suggest that reduced EC effects resulting from unreinforced CS presentations are due to judgement-related processes during the verbal expression of CS evaluations rather than genuine changes in the underlying evaluative representations.