SPONTANEOUS AND DELIBERATE EVALUATION
Conflicts between the “head” and the “heart” can be rather common in everyday life. We may feel romantically attracted to a particular person despite firmly believing that this person is not a good match; and the sight of a high-calorie dessert may elicit an impulse to indulge although we know that it is unhealthy and detrimental for our goal to lose weight. Conversely, we may experience feelings of apprehension and discomfort when encountering members of stigmatized groups even though we intellectually abhor prejudice and wish to express solidarity with minorities; and a small spider may elicit a fright response although we know that it is entirely harmless. Although these examples may seem rather distinct, they are conceptually similar in that all of them involve a conflict between a spontaneous evaluative response (often called implicit evaluation) and a deliberate evaluative judgment (often called explicit evaluation). In the Social Cognition Lab, we are interested in the mental underpinnings of spontaneous and deliberate evaluations, focusing especially on the role of associative and propositional processes. In our research, we investigate how associative and propositional processes interact with each other, how they jointly influence social judgments and social behavior, and what factors lead to changes in the two kinds of processes and their resulting evaluative responses.
ASSOCIATIVE AND PROPOSITIONAL PROCESSES
A substantial amount of this research is based on the associative-propositional evaluation (APE) model, which distinguishes between the activation of associations in memory and the validation of the propositional information implied by activated associations (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006, 2007, 2011). The original purpose of the APE model was to provide an integration of apparently inconsistent findings in the literature on implicit and explicit attitude change. In several of our ongoing studies, we use the core assumptions of the APE model to gain deeper insights into the mechanisms underlying various social psychological phenomena. Examples include the role of associative and propositional processes in attitude formation and change (e.g., Gawronski & LeBel, 2008), evaluative conditioning (e.g., Gawronski, Balas, & Creighton, in press), cognitive dissonance (e.g., Gawronski & Strack, 2004), cognitive balance (e.g., Langer, Walther, Gawronski, & Blank, 2009), prejudice and stereotyping (e.g., Gawronski, Peters, Brochu, & Strack, 2008), and self-representation (e.g., Peters & Gawronski, 2011). More recently, we have started to investigate the role of associative and propositional processes in various applied contexts, including political decision-making (e.g., Galdi, Arcuri, & Gawronski, 2008), consumer behavior (e.g., Gawronski, 2013), and affective disorders (e.g., Ouimet, Gawronski, & Dozois, 2009).
GENERALIZATION VERSUS CONTEXTUALIZATION
Challenging a widespread assumption in the literature on spontaneous evaluation, a considerable body of research has shown that spontaneous evaluations can be highly context-dependent, such that the same object may elicit different evaluative responses depending on the context in which it is encountered. However, the conditions under which spontaneous evaluations are context-dependent or context-independent are still not well understood. To address this limitation, we have started to investigate the learning processes that lead to context-dependent versus context-independent evaluative responses (Rydell & Gawronski, 2009). Drawing on the concepts of contextual renewal and occasion setting in animal learning, we developed a representational theory of generalization versus contextualization effects that specifies the contextual conditions under which spontaneous evaluations reflect either (a) initially acquired attitudinal information; (b) subsequently acquired counterattitudinal information; or (c) a mixture of both (Gawronski, Rydell, Vervliet, & De Houwer, 2010). In our ongoing research, we are testing a variety of novel predictions derived from this account to provide deeper insights into the mechanisms underlying context effects on spontaneous and deliberate evaluations (Gawronski & Cesario, 2013).
THEORY AND MEASUREMENT
Because the strength of any scientific theory depends on the strength of the data it is based on, our research program also includes a strong focus on psychological measurement. One line of research is concerned with the processes underlying measures of spontaneous evaluation. A major product of this research is an integrative framework that describes the interplay of associative and attentional processes in response interference tasks (Gawronski, Deutsch, LeBel, & Peters, 2008). Several studies inspired by this framework have shown that the same experimental manipulation can produce different effects on otherwise equivalent measures that have been assumed to assess the same construct (e.g., Deutsch & Gawronski, 2009; Gawronski, Cunningham, LeBel, & Deutsch, 2010). These findings point to the fundamental role of method-related factors in shaping responses on different kinds of measurement procedures, which has important implications for theoretical interpretations of empirical findings obtained with these measures. In another line of research, we are utilizing process dissociation to disentangle the unique contributions of deontological and utilitarian inclinations to moral judgment, which is essential to evaluate the validity of current dual-process theories of moral decision-making (Conway & Gawronski, 2013). Integrating basic questions of psychological measurement with a broader meta-theoretical perspective, our work is also concerned with fundamental conceptual issues in the construction and evaluation of social psychological theories (e.g., De Houwer, Gawronski, & Barnes-Holmes, in press; Gawronski, Sherman, & Trope, 2014).
- Attitudes and Beliefs
- Causal Attribution
- Emotion, Mood, Affect
- Judgment and Decision Making
- Person Perception
- Persuasion, Social Influence
- Political Psychology
- Prejudice and Stereotyping
- Research Methods, Assessment
- Self and Identity
- Social Cognition
Research Group or Laboratory:
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- Sherman, J. W., Gawronski, B., & Trope, Y. (Eds.). (2014). Dual-process theories of the social mind. New York: Guilford Press.
- Gawronski, B., & Strack, F. (Eds.). (2012). Cognitive consistency: A fundamental principle in social cognition. New York: Guilford Press.
- Gawronski, B., & Payne, B. K. (Eds.). (2010). Handbook of implicit social cognition: Measurement, theory, and applications. New York: Guilford Press.
- Gawronski, B., & Cesario, J. (2013). Of mice and men: What animal research can tell us about context effects on automatic responses in humans. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 17, 187-215.
- Conway, P., & Gawronski, B. (2013). Deontological and utilitarian inclinations in moral decision-making: A process dissociation approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 216-235.
- Galdi, S., Gawronski, B., Arcuri, L., & Friese, M. (2012). Selective exposure in decided and undecided individuals: Differential relations to automatic associations and conscious beliefs. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 559-569.
- Gawronski, B., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2011). The associative-propositional evaluation model: Theory, evidence, and open questions. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 59-127.
- Peters, K. R., & Gawronski, B. (2011). Are we puppets on a string? Comparing the impact of contingency and validity on implicit and explicit evaluations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 557-569.
- Gawronski, B., Rydell, R. J., Vervliet, B., & De Houwer, J. (2010). Generalization versus contextualization in automatic evaluation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 139, 683-701.
- Gawronski, B., Peters, K. R., Brochu, P. M., & Strack, F. (2008). Understanding the relations between different forms of racial prejudice: A cognitive consistency perspectice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 648-665.
- Gawronski, B., & LeBel, E. P. (2008). Understanding patterns of attitude change: When implicit measures show change, but explicit measures do not. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1355-1361.
- Sherman, J. W., Gawronski, B., Gonsalkorale, K., Hugenberg, K., Allen, T. J., & Groom, C. J. (2008). The self-regulation of automatic associations and behavioral impulses. Psychological Review, 115, 314-335.
- Galdi, S., Arcuri, L., & Gawronski, B. (2008). Automatic mental associations predict future choices of undecided decision-makers. Science, 321, 1100-1102.
- Gawronski, B., LeBel, E. P., & Peters, K. R. (2007). What do implicit measures tell us? Scrutinizing the validity of three common assumptions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 181-193.
- Deutsch, R., Gawronski, B., & Strack, F. (2006). At the boundaries of automaticity: Negation as reflective operation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 385-405.
- Gawronski, B., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2006). Associative and propositional processes in evaluation: An integrative review of implicit and explicit attitude change. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 692-731.
- Gawronski, B., Hofmann, W., & Wilbur, C. J. (2006). Are "implicit" attitudes unconscious? Consciousness and Cognition, 15, 485-499.
- Conrey, F. R., Sherman, J. W., Gawronski, B., Hugenberg, K., & Groom, C. (2005). Separating multiple processes in implicit social cognition: The Quad Model of implicit task performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 469-487.
- Gawronski, B., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2005). Accessibility effects on implicit social cognition: The role of knowledge activation and retrieval experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 672-685.
- Gawronski, B., & Strack, F. (2004). On the propositional nature of cognitive consistency: Dissonance changes explicit, but not implicit attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 535-542.
- Cognition and Emotion
- Consumer Psychology
- Implicit Social Cognition
- Person Perception
- Philosophy of Psychology
- Prejudice and Stereotyping
- Social Cognition
- Theories in Social Psychology
Department of Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
108 E. Dean Keeton A8000
Austin, TX 78712
- Phone: 512-471-7520