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 languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)870-882
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


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

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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