Experimental Evidence That Demand Characteristics Do Not Play a Dominant Role in the Evaluative Conditioning Effect

Yahel Nudler, May Zvi, Gal Levy, Yoav Bar-Anan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The evaluative conditioning (EC) effect has been documented in many experiments: Participants typically prefer stimuli that co-occurred with positive stimuli over stimuli that co-occurred with negative stimuli. The present research attempted to test whether demand characteristics are a dominant cause of the EC effect. In three experiments, we informed participants of the research hypothesis, sometimes indicating an expectation of a contrast effect, rather than an assimilative effect. That manipulation hardly moderated the EC effect. The manipulation influenced participants’ beliefs regarding the research hypothesis, although participants generally believed that an assimilative effect is a more plausible research hypothesis than a contrast effect. Even participants who believed that the researchers expected a contrast effect or assumed that stimulus co-occurrence typically causes a contrast effect still showed an assimilative effect. The results suggest that although demand characteristics might influence the EC effect, the overall influence of that factor is minor.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • attitudes
  • demand characteristics
  • evaluation
  • evaluative conditioning
  • evaluative learning

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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