Evaluative Conditioning

Researcher(s): Serena D'Hooge
Promotors: Verolien Cauberghe , Gino Verleye , Liselot Hudders
Duration: from 01/02/2014 to 31/01/2020


The aim of this PhD-project is to further investigate the psychological theory of evaluative conditioning in the field of marketing communication.With marketing communication marketers want to persuade people in buying their product(s) and/or service(s). Key to the buying decision is the attitude toward the brand (Martin & Levey, 1978). Following the evaluative conditioning theory the attitude toward a certain stimulus can be changed by repeatedly pairing this stimulus with another affective stimulus. Repeated pairings with a positive stimulus lead to a positive evaluative change, while repeated pairings with a negative stimulus lead to a negative change in evaluative response (De Houwer, Thomas, & Baeyens, 2001; Martin & Levey, 1978). When pairing the brand with affective stimuli in marketing communication the attitude toward the brand can hereby be affected. In this sense, the repeated pairing of Nespresso with George Clooney can affect the consumer’s attitude toward Nespresso according to their attitude toward George Clooney. People who like George Clooney will develop a more positive attitude toward Nespresso than people who dislike George Clooney. Looking further to the recent contributions concerning the procedural parameters (e.g. simultaneous versus sequential and heterogeneous versus homogenous pairings) and the maintaining debates on the mental processes and functional characteristics (e.g. correction possible or not) of the evaluative conditioning effect (Sweldens, Corneille, & Yzerbyt, 2014) it is interesting to further investigate this topic with regard to its applicability in the field of marketing communication.

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