Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Valence generalization across non-recurring structures

Version 1 : Received: 27 January 2021 / Approved: 28 January 2021 / Online: 28 January 2021 (15:40:55 CET)

How to cite: Amd, M. Valence generalization across non-recurring structures. Preprints 2021, 2021010592 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202101.0592.v1). Amd, M. Valence generalization across non-recurring structures. Preprints 2021, 2021010592 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202101.0592.v1).


Semantically meaningless strings that are associated with affective attributes (US) can become emotionally valenced CS. Jurchiș et al (2020) recently demonstrated CS-US associations may influence evaluations towards previously-unseen letter strings if the latter share grammar construction rules with CS. We replicated those authors' findings in a modified extension (Experiment 1; N1 = 108), where happy/angry faces (US) were differentially associated with letter strings (CS) constructed using familiar (English) or non-familiar (Phoenician) alphabets. CS-US sequences were sandwiched by evaluations of strings that never appeared as CS, but shared grammar construction rules. However, post-hoc tests indicated valence effects were restricted to participants classified as 'high awareness' or those who had been exposed to longer stimulus durations, suggesting resource-intense deliberations were central during evaluations. Qualitative awareness checks additionally showcased many participants had attributed valences to recurring elements across conditioned and evaluated exemplars. These limitations were collectively addressed in Experiment 2 (N2 = 140), where participants viewed Phoenician (/English) CS during conditioning but viewed English (/Phoenician) strings during evaluations, meaning no strings nor elements recurred between phases. We found credible valence effects across English and Phoenician strings, with the latter observed across all awareness categories. Because participants were unable to consciously specify any evaluative strategies while evaluating Phoenician strings, we speculate grammar construction rules (organizing relations) may have been non-consciously acquired during conditioning.


learning theory; symbolic conditioning; direct realism; valence transfer


BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, Cognitive & Experimental Psychology

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