Are there two independent evaluative conditioning effects in relational paradigms? Dissociating the effects of CS-US pairings and their meaning

Recent research into evaluative conditioning (EC) shows that information about the relationship between the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli can exert strong effects on the size and direction of the EC effect. Additionally, the co-occurrence of these stimuli seems to exert an orthogonal effect on evaluations. This finding has been interpreted as support for two independent types of EC effects. However, previous research devoted to this question relied on aggregated evaluative measures, allowing for alternative interpretations. In four experiments, we developed and validated a multinomial processing tree model that distinguishes effects of the pairings from effects of the meaning of the pairings. Our findings suggest that two independent EC effects contribute to overall evaluative change in a relational EC paradigm. The model that we developed offers a helpful method for future research in that it allows for an assessment of the effects of manipulations on processes rather than overall performance on an evaluative measure.