Effects of self-instructed stimulus-affect plans on indirectly measured and self-reported evaluative responses
Repeatedly experiencing a specific stimulus-affect contingency influences subsequent evaluative responses towards the respective stimulus (e.g., evaluative conditioning). In the present research, we provide further evidence that verbally processed stimulus-affect contingencies in the form of if-then plans have comparable evaluative consequences. We present three studies (N = 323) in which participants verbally linked cupcakes to either a positive (“delicious”) or a negative (“disgusting”) affective response while being instructed with the same health-related goal. We tested the evaluative consequences of processing these verbal stimulus-affect plans in a valence-based response-compatibility paradigm (Implicit Association Test, IAT) and self-reported liking ratings. We failed to observe the predicted effect in the first study and updated the methodology for the following two studies. With the updated procedure (two studies, N = 239), we found the hypothesized effect that processing a verbal stimulus-affect plan influences subsequent responses in the IAT and self-reported ratings in an evaluatively congruent direction. We discuss these results in relation to similar effects following directly experienced stimulus-affect contingencies and instructed evaluative conditioning. Furthermore, our present research highlights the potential to use verbal self-instruction in a stimulus-affect format to self-regulate one's evaluative responses towards specific stimuli (e.g., unhealthy snacks).