|INSTRUCTION-BASED APPROACH-AVOIDANCE EFFECTS: CHANGING STIMULUS EVALUATION VIA THE MERE INSTRUCTION TO APPROACH OR AVOID STIMULI
|Jan De Houwer
Van Dessel, P., De Houwer, J., Gast, A., & Smith, C.T. (2015). Instruction-based approach-avoidance effects: Changing stimulus evaluation via the mere instruction to approach or avoid stimuli. Experimental Psychology, 62, 161-169. Prior research suggests that repeatedly approaching or avoiding a certain stimulus changes the liking of this stimulus. We investigated whether these effects of approach and avoidance training occur also when participants do not perform these actions but are merely instructed about the stimulus–action contingencies. Stimulus evaluations were registered using both implicit (Implicit Association Test and evaluative priming) and explicit measures (valence ratings). Instruction- based approach-avoidance effects were observed for relatively neutral fictitious social groups (i.e., Niffites and Luupites), but not for clearly valenced well-known social groups (i.e., Blacks and Whites). We conclude that instructions to approach or avoid stimuli can provide sufficient bases for establishing both implicit and explicit evaluations of novel stimuli and discuss several possible reasons for why similar instruction-based approach-avoidance effects were not found for valenced well-known stimuli.