The Role of Trait Inferences in Evaluative Conditioning

Tal Moran, Sean Hughes, Pieter van Dessel, Jan de Houwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evaluative Conditioning (EC) effect is a change in evaluative responding to a neutral stimulus (CS) due to its pairing with a valenced stimulus (US). Traditionally, EC effects are viewed as fundamentally different from persuasion effects. Inspired by a propositional perspective to EC, four studies (N = 1,284) tested if, like persuasion effects, EC effects can also be driven by trait inferences. Experiments 1-2 found that promoting trait inferences (by pairing people with trait words rather than nouns) increased EC effects. Experiments 3-4 found that undermining trait inferences (by questioning the validity of those inferences) decreased EC effects. In all experiments, however, EC effects were still significant when trait inferences were invalid. Taken together, our findings (a) suggest that trait inferences can play an important role in EC effects, (b) constrain theoretical models of EC, and (c) have important implications for applied EC interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31738
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 25 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This manuscript is supported by Ghent University grant BOF16/MET_V/002 to JDH and by grant FWO19/PDS/041 of the Scientific Research Foundation, Flanders to PVD.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Institute of Physics Inc.. All rights reserved.


  • automatic evaluation
  • evaluative conditioning
  • propositional models
  • trait inference


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