A memory-based judgment account of expectancy-liking dissociations in evaluative conditioning
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Description: Evaluative conditioning (EC) is a change in liking of neutral conditioned stimuli (CS) following pairings with positive or negative stimuli (unconditioned stimulus, US). A dissociation has been reported between US expectancy and CS evaluation in extinction learning: When CSs are presented alone subsequent to CS-US pairings, participants cease to expect USs but continue to exhibit EC effects. This dissociation is typically interpreted as demonstration that EC is resistant to extinction, and consequently, that EC is driven by a distinct learning process. We tested whether expectancy-liking dissociations are instead caused by different judgment strategies afforded by the dependent measures: CS evaluations are by default integrative judgments---summaries of large portions of the learning history---whereas US expectancy reflects momentary judgments that focus on recent events. In a counterconditioning and two extinction experiments, we eliminated the expectancy-liking dissociation by inducing nondefault momentary evaluative judgments, and demonstrated a reversed dissociation when we additionally induced nondefault integrative expectancy judgments. Our findings corroborated a-priori predictions derived from the formal memory model MINERVA 2. Hence, dissociations between US expectancy and CS evaluation are consistent with a single-process learning model; they reflect different summaries of the learning history.
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