Incidental Attitude Formation via the Surveillance Task: A Preregistered Replication of the Olson and Fazio (2001) Study

Tal Moran, Sean Hughes, Ian Hussey, Miguel A. Vadillo, Michael A. Olson, Frederik Aust, Karoline Bading, Robert Balas, Taylor Benedict, Olivier Corneille, Samantha B. Douglas, Melissa J. Ferguson, Katherine A. Fritzlen, Anne Gast, Bertram Gawronski, Tamara Giménez-Fernández, Krzysztof Hanusz, Tobias Heycke, Fabia Högden, Mandy HütterBenedek Kurdi, Adrien Mierop, Jasmin Richter, Justyna Sarzyńska-Wawer, Colin Tucker Smith, Christoph Stahl, Philine Thomasius, Christian Unkelbach, Jan De Houwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-131
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • attitude formation
  • contingency awareness
  • evaluative conditioning
  • open data
  • open materials
  • preregistered
  • preregistered replication
  • recollective memory

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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