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Is less of an unhealthy ingredient healthy or unhealthy? Effects of mere co-occurrence and quantitative relations on attribute judgments
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology  (IF3.603),  Pub Date : 2021-07-15, DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104193
Bertram Gawronski, Dillon M. Luke, Nyx L. Ng

Research suggests that evaluative responses to an object can be jointly influenced by the mere co-occurrence of the object with a pleasant or unpleasant stimulus (e.g., mere co-occurrence of object A with unpleasant event B) and the qualitative relation of the object to that stimulus (e.g., object A starts vs. stops unpleasant event B). Expanding on these findings, the current research investigated effects of mere co-occurrence and quantitative relations (e.g., product A includes more vs. less of unhealthy ingredient B) on attribute judgments. Seven experiments obtained strong effects of quantitative relations and rather weak evidence for mere co-occurrence effects. Although processing conditions during encoding and judgment moderated effects of quantitative relations in a manner consistent with the predictions of extant theories, the evidence for predicted moderators of mere co-occurrence effects was mixed. The results are explained via a combination of propositional inferences during learning and selective retrieval during judgment.