Evaluative conditioning is one of the most widely studied procedures for establishing and changing attitudes. The surveillance task is a highly cited evaluative-conditioning paradigm and one that is claimed to generate attitudes without awareness. The potential for evaluative-conditioning effects to occur without awareness continues to fuel conceptual, theoretical, and applied developments. Yet few published studies have used this task, and most are characterized by small samples and small effect sizes. We conducted a high-powered (N = 1,478 adult participants), preregistered close replication of the original surveillance-task study (Olson & Fazio, 2001). We obtained evidence for a small evaluative-conditioning effect when “aware” participants were excluded using the original criterion—therefore replicating the original effect. However, no such effect emerged when three other awareness criteria were used. We suggest that there is a need for caution when using evidence from the surveillance-task effect to make theoretical and practical claims about “unaware” evaluative-conditioning effects.
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