The effect of practice on automatic evaluation: A registered replication

Anat Shechter, Mayan Navon, Yoav Bar-Anan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A basic idea in cognitive science is that practicing a response can lead to the automatic activation of the response. Fazio, Sanbonmatsu, Powell, and Kardes (1986) tested that idea on the automatic activation of attitudes. In the experiment that Fazio et al. conducted, participants (N = 18) repeatedly categorized eight nouns as good/bad and eight nouns (the control words) as having one syllable or more. The measure of automatic activation of attitudes was evaluative priming: Participants categorized target adjectives as good/bad faster if their valence matched the valence of a prime noun that appeared before them. This priming effect was stronger for repeatedly evaluated words than for control words. Many have cited this article as evidence that practice automatizes evaluation, but the published research that followed focused on the evaluative priming effect, providing only one incidental and unsuccessful replication for the effect of practice on automatic evaluation. In light of the importance of this finding on the one hand, and the lack of a solid evidential basis for it on the other hand, we conducted three experiments that tested the effect of practice on evaluative priming effect. We attempted to directly replicate the original procedure in Experiments 1a and 1b (N = 108, 102, respectively), with Experiment 1b fixing an unintended prime-target contingency in Experiment 1a. Experiment 2 (N = 172) provided a conceptual replication with modified procedures. Practice in evaluation increased priming only in Experiment 1a. The inconsistent results prevent strong conclusions that practicing an evaluative response automates it, necessitating further research.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104587
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024


  • Attitude rehearsal
  • Automatic
  • Evaluative priming
  • Practice

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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