Attitudes as propositional representations

Jan De Houwer, Pieter Van Dessel, Tal Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Attitudes are mental representations that help to explain why stimuli evoke positive or negative responses. Until recently, attitudes were often thought of as associations in memory. This idea inspired extensive research on evaluative conditioning (EC) and implicit evaluation. However, attitudes can also be seen as propositional representations, which, unlike associations, specify relational information and have a truth value. We review research on EC and implicit evaluation that tested the basic tenets of the propositional perspective on attitudes. In line with this perspective, studies show that both phenomena are moderated by relational and truth information. We discuss implications for the prediction and influencing of seemingly irrational behavior such as excessive alcohol intake and implicit racial bias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)870-882
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The preparation of this review was made possible by Methusalem Grant BOF16/MET_V/002 of Ghent University to J.D.H. and grant FWO19/PDS/041 of the Scientific Research Foundation Flanders to P.V.D. We thank Russ Fazio, Eric Mandelbaum, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of the review.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • associations
  • attitudes
  • evaluations
  • evaluative conditioning
  • implicit evaluation
  • propositional representations


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