Evaluative conditioning research has investigated the effect of mere stimuli co-occurrence on evaluation and found an assimilative effect - a novel stimulus acquires the valence of the co-occurring stimulus. However, most learning episodes include stimulus co-occurrence with additional relational information. For instance, viewers learn that Batman co-occurs with crime and that he fights crime. Does co-occurrence with crime increase negativity toward Batman parallel to an increase of positivity because Batman fights crime? We examined whether co-occurrence influences evaluation above and beyond the effect of relational qualifiers. We review initial supporting evidence and report five novel experiments (total N = 505) that suggest that co-occurrence with affective stimuli has an assimilative effect on evaluation even when explicit relational information suggests the opposite valence. We suggest further empirical directions for studying the effects of co-occurrence versus other relational information on evaluation.
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- Evaluative conditioning
- Impression formation