Publications by authors named "Jan De Houwer"

246 Publications

Exploring the Link between Novel Task Proceduralization and Motor Simulation.

J Cogn 2021 27;4(1):57. Epub 2021 Sep 27.

Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, NL.

Our ability to generate efficient behavior from novel instructions is critical for our adaptation to changing environments. Despite the absence of previous experience, novel instructed content is quickly encoded into an action-based or procedural format, facilitating automatic task processing. In the current work, we investigated the link between proceduralization and motor simulation, specifically, whether the covert activation of the task-relevant responses is used during the assembly of action-based instructions representations. Across three online experiments, we used a concurrent finger-tapping task to block motor simulation during the encoding of novel stimulus-response (S-R) associations. The overlap between the mappings and the motor task at the response level was manipulated. We predicted a greater impairment at mapping implementation in the overlapping condition, where the mappings' relevant response representations were already loaded by the motor demands, and thus, could not be used in the upcoming task simulation. This hypothesis was robustly supported by the three datasets. Nonetheless, the overlapping effect was not modulated by further manipulations of proceduralization-related variables (preparation demands in Exp.2, mapping novelty in Exp.3). Importantly, a fourth control experiment ruled out that our results were driven by alternative accounts as fatigue or negative priming. Overall, we provided strong evidence towards the involvement of motor simulation during anticipatory task reconfiguration. However, this involvement was rather general, and not restricted to novelty scenarios. Finally, these findings can be also integrated into broader models of anticipatory task control, stressing the role of the motor system during preparation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/joc.190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8485871PMC
September 2021

Exploring the Link between Novel Task Proceduralization and Motor Simulation.

J Cogn 2021 27;4(1):57. Epub 2021 Sep 27.

Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, NL.

Our ability to generate efficient behavior from novel instructions is critical for our adaptation to changing environments. Despite the absence of previous experience, novel instructed content is quickly encoded into an action-based or procedural format, facilitating automatic task processing. In the current work, we investigated the link between proceduralization and motor simulation, specifically, whether the covert activation of the task-relevant responses is used during the assembly of action-based instructions representations. Across three online experiments, we used a concurrent finger-tapping task to block motor simulation during the encoding of novel stimulus-response (S-R) associations. The overlap between the mappings and the motor task at the response level was manipulated. We predicted a greater impairment at mapping implementation in the overlapping condition, where the mappings' relevant response representations were already loaded by the motor demands, and thus, could not be used in the upcoming task simulation. This hypothesis was robustly supported by the three datasets. Nonetheless, the overlapping effect was not modulated by further manipulations of proceduralization-related variables (preparation demands in Exp.2, mapping novelty in Exp.3). Importantly, a fourth control experiment ruled out that our results were driven by alternative accounts as fatigue or negative priming. Overall, we provided strong evidence towards the involvement of motor simulation during anticipatory task reconfiguration. However, this involvement was rather general, and not restricted to novelty scenarios. Finally, these findings can be also integrated into broader models of anticipatory task control, stressing the role of the motor system during preparation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/joc.190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8485871PMC
September 2021

The selective action of Cfunc control.

J Exp Anal Behav 2021 11 20;116(3):314-331. Epub 2021 Sep 20.

Ghent University.

According to relational frame theory Cfunc stimuli select which stimulus properties are transformed via derived stimulus relations. To date there has been no demonstration of the selective action of Cfunc control. We provide an analysis of the requirements for such a demonstration, and describe the results from four experiments employing a paradigm consistent with these requirements. We employed a paradigm based on virtual car races. The paradigm had two components: i) a sample racecar screen which showed the performance of a sample racecar, and used experimentally engineered symbols to communicate how the performance of each real racecar would compare with that of the sample racecar, and ii) a car race screen showing other racecars race. Two symbols were established as Crels for the relations of same and different, and two symbols were established as Cfuncs for the functional properties of speed and direction. The results from these experiments demonstrate Cfunc stimuli can select which functions transform via derived stimulus relations, a central component of relational frame theory. The study has implications for the study of relational responding in complex settings and for applied work aimed at refining repertoires of relational responding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jeab.717DOI Listing
November 2021

The (shared) features of fear: Toward the source of human fear responding.

Curr Opin Psychol 2021 10 17;41:113-117. Epub 2021 Jul 17.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University.

Little is known about why people behave the way they do in threatening situations. Some theories invoke a transfer of responses from unconditioned stimuli (US) to conditioned stimuli (CS), but this principle goes astray because responses to the US and CS can differ substantially. The idea that we introduce here is that the pattern of responses to a newly established CS does not come from the US but (at least partly) transfers from how one (learned to) respond(s) to previously encountered stimuli with threat value. So, we conceptualize threat value as a stimulus feature that allows responses to transfer between stimuli that share this feature (in the same way as, for example, overlap in color or shape can support transfer). In contrast to prevailing views, this new perspective focuses on the relation between the CS and already established threat signals rather than on the relation between the CS and the US. We discuss how this shared features perspective on human fear responding can inspire future directions in both the laboratory and clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2021.07.005DOI Listing
October 2021

Attitudes as propositional representations.

Trends Cogn Sci 2021 10 30;25(10):870-882. Epub 2021 Jul 30.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Attitudes are mental representations that help to explain why stimuli evoke positive or negative responses. Until recently, attitudes were often thought of as associations in memory. This idea inspired extensive research on evaluative conditioning (EC) and implicit evaluation. However, attitudes can also be seen as propositional representations, which, unlike associations, specify relational information and have a truth value. We review research on EC and implicit evaluation that tested the basic tenets of the propositional perspective on attitudes. In line with this perspective, studies show that both phenomena are moderated by relational and truth information. We discuss implications for the prediction and influencing of seemingly irrational behavior such as excessive alcohol intake and implicit racial bias.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2021.07.003DOI Listing
October 2021

Examining Automatic Stereotyping From a Propositional Perspective: Is Automatic Stereotyping Sensitive to Relational and Validity Information?

Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2021 Jul 14:1461672211024121. Epub 2021 Jul 14.

Ghent University, Belgium.

Research on automatic stereotyping is dominated by the idea that automatic stereotyping reflects the activation of (group-trait) associations. In two preregistered experiments (total = 391), we tested predictions derived from an alternative perspective that suggests that automatic stereotyping is the result of the activation of propositional representations that, unlike associations, can encode relational information and have truth values. Experiment 1 found that automatic stereotyping is sensitive to the validity of information about pairs of traits and groups. Experiment 2 showed that automatic stereotyping is sensitive to the specific relations (e.g., whether a particular group is more or less friendly than a reference person) between pairs of traits and groups. Interestingly, both experiments found a weaker influence of validity/relational information on automatic stereotyping than on non-automatic stereotyping. We discuss the implications of these findings for research on automatic stereotyping.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/01461672211024121DOI Listing
July 2021

On the challenges of cognitive psychopathology research and possible ways forward: Arguments for a pragmatic cognitive approach.

Authors:
Jan De Houwer

Curr Opin Psychol 2021 10 24;41:96-99. Epub 2021 Apr 24.

Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2 B-9000 Ghent Belgium. Electronic address:

Cognitive psychology had a profound impact on psychopathology research. Nevertheless, the fact that cognition cannot be observed or manipulated directly complicates debates about the nature of the mental mechanisms that mediate psychopathology. This is less troublesome for psychopathology researchers who adopt an explicitly pragmatic approach that aims to use cognitive theories as tools for improving psychotherapy than for psychopathology researchers who seek to establish whether those theories are 'correct.' A pragmatic cognitive approach fosters progress by encouraging (a) reality-checks aimed at ending unproductive theoretical debates between cognitive theories, (b) a separation between to-be-explained psychological phenomena and explanatory mental constructs, (c) theoretical diversity, and (d) interactions with behavior analysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2021.04.005DOI Listing
October 2021

Behavioral Reluctance in Adopting Open Access Publishing: Insights From a Goal-Directed Perspective.

Front Psychol 2021 7;12:649915. Epub 2021 Apr 7.

Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Despite growing awareness of the benefits of large-scale open access publishing, individual researchers seem reluctant to adopt this behavior, thereby slowing down the evolution toward a new scientific culture. We outline and apply a goal-directed framework of behavior causation to shed light on this type of behavioral reluctance and to organize and suggest possible intervention strategies. The framework explains behavior as the result of a cycle of events starting with the detection of a discrepancy between a goal and a and the selection of behavior to reduce this discrepancy. We list various factors that may hinder this cycle and thus contribute to behavioral reluctance. After that, we highlight potential remedies to address each of the identified barriers. We thereby hope to point out new ways to think about behavioral reluctances in general, and in relation to open access publishing in particular.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.649915DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8059406PMC
April 2021

Automatic effects of covert practice.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2021 Oct 5;74(10):1697-1708. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium.

Automatic behaviour is supposedly underlain by the unintentional retrieval of processing episodes, which are stored during the repeated overt practice of a task or activity. In the present study, we investigated whether covertly practicing a task (e.g., repeatedly imagining responding to a stimulus) also leads to the storage of processing episodes and thus to automatic behaviour. Participants first either responded overtly or covertly to stimuli according to a first categorization task in a practice phase. We then measured the presence of automatic response-congruency effects in a subsequent test phase that involved a different categorization task but the same stimuli and responses. Our results indicate that covert practice can lead to a response-congruency effect. We conclude that covert practice can lead to automatic behaviour and discuss the different components of covert practice, such as motor imagery, visual imagery, and inner speech, that contribute to the formation of processing episodes in memory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/17470218211007138DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8392803PMC
October 2021

Illusory-Correlation Effects on Implicit and Explicit Evaluation.

Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2021 10 14;47(10):1480-1494. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Ghent University, Belgium.

Research suggests that people sometimes perceive a relationship between stimuli when no such relationship exists (i.e., illusory correlation). Illusory-correlation effects are thought to play a central role in the formation of stereotypes and evaluations of minority versus majority groups, often leading to less favorable impressions of minorities. Extant theories differ in terms of whether they attribute illusory-correlation effects to processes operating during learning (belief formation) or measurement (belief expression), and whether different evaluation measures should be differentially sensitive to illusory-correlation effects. Past research found mixed evidence for dissociative effects of illusory-correlation manipulations on measures of implicit (i.e., automatic) and explicit (i.e., controlled) evaluation. Four high-powered studies obtained illusory-correlation effects on explicit evaluations, but not implicit evaluations probed with an Implicit Association Test, Evaluative Priming Task, and Affect Misattribution Procedure. The results are consistent with theories that attribute illusory-correlation effects to processes during belief expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167220977706DOI Listing
October 2021

Incidental Attitude Formation via the Surveillance Task: A Preregistered Replication of the Olson and Fazio (2001) Study.

Psychol Sci 2021 01 10;32(1):120-131. Epub 2020 Dec 10.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University.

Evaluative conditioning is one of the most widely studied procedures for establishing and changing attitudes. The surveillance task is a highly cited evaluative-conditioning paradigm and one that is claimed to generate attitudes without awareness. The potential for evaluative-conditioning effects to occur without awareness continues to fuel conceptual, theoretical, and applied developments. Yet few published studies have used this task, and most are characterized by small samples and small effect sizes. We conducted a high-powered ( = 1,478 adult participants), preregistered close replication of the original surveillance-task study (Olson & Fazio, 2001). We obtained evidence for a small evaluative-conditioning effect when "aware" participants were excluded using the original criterion-therefore replicating the original effect. However, no such effect emerged when three other awareness criteria were used. We suggest that there is a need for caution when using evidence from the surveillance-task effect to make theoretical and practical claims about "unaware" evaluative-conditioning effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797620968526DOI Listing
January 2021

The influence of extinction and counterconditioning procedures on operant evaluative conditioning and intersecting regularity effects.

R Soc Open Sci 2020 Oct 7;7(10):192085. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

One of the most effective methods of influencing what people like and dislike is to expose them to systematic patterns (or 'regularities') in the environment, such as the repeated presentation of a single stimulus (mere exposure), two or more stimuli (evaluative conditioning (EC)) or to relationships between stimuli and behaviour (approach/avoidance). Hughes . (2016) , 731-754. (doi:10.1037/xge0000100) found that evaluations also emerge when regularities in the environment with one another. In this paper, we examined if evaluations established via operant EC and intersecting regularities can be undermined via extinction or revised via counterconditioning. Across seven pre-registered studies ( = 1071), participants first completed a learning phase designed to establish novel evaluations followed by one of multiple forms of extinction or counterconditioning procedures designed to undo them. Results indicate that evaluations were--resistant to extinction and counterconditioning. Theoretical and practical implications along with future directions are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.192085DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7657930PMC
October 2020

Corrigendum: Environmentally Sustainable Food Consumption: A Review and Research Agenda From a Goal-Directed Perspective.

Front Psychol 2020 21;11:585387. Epub 2020 Oct 21.

BE4LIFE, Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

[This corrects the article DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01603.].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585387DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7609954PMC
October 2020

Can (Instructions About) Stimulus Pairings Influence Automatic and Self-Reported Evaluations in the Presence of More Diagnostic Evaluative Information?

Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2021 08 9;47(8):1249-1263. Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Ghent University, Belgium.

Evaluative conditioning (EC) and persuasion are important pathways for shaping evaluations. However, little is known about how these pathways interact. Two preregistered experiments (total = 1,510) examined effects of EC procedures (i.e., stimulus pairings) and EC instructions (i.e., instructions about stimulus pairings) on automatic and self-reported evaluations of social groups in the presence of more diagnostic information about the evaluative traits of those groups. Interestingly, both EC procedures and EC instructions still influenced automatic and self-reported evaluations when participants had read more diagnostic persuasive information. In line with predictions of propositional accounts of evaluation, EC instruction effects on automatic evaluations were not mediated by corresponding changes in self-reported evaluations. These results have theoretical implications and also highlight the important role that (instructions about) stimulus pairings have in social learning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167220964638DOI Listing
August 2021

On the role of (implicit) drinking self-identity in alcohol use and problematic drinking: A comparison of five measures.

Psychol Addict Behav 2021 Jun 29;35(4):458-471. Epub 2020 Oct 29.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University.

Implicit and explicit drinking self-identity appear to be useful in predicting alcohol-related outcomes. However, there are several different implicit and explicit measures which can be used to assess drinking self-identity. Some of these implicit measures can also capture relational information (e.g., I am a drinker, I should be a drinker), which might provide unique advantages. Despite the importance of having good measures of drinking self-identity, to date there has been little direct comparison of these measures. This study (N = 358) systematically compared two commonly used measures of drinking self-identity (one implicit and one explicit: the Implicit Association Test [IAT] and the Alcohol Self-Concept Scale [ASCS]) with three relational measures of implicit self-identity (the autobiographical IAT [aIAT], the Relational Responding Task [RRT], and the Propositional Concealed Information Test [pCIT]) on a range of criteria relevant to experimental and clinical alcohol researchers. Overall, we found mixed performances on the implicit measures. Interestingly, the aIAT, which probed should-based drinking identity, performed better than the standard IAT. However, the explicit measure exhibited superior performance to all other measures across all criteria. Our results suggest that researchers who wish to assess drinking-related self-identity and to predict alcohol-related outcomes cross-sectionally should set their focus primarily on the use (and further development) of the ASCS, rather than any of the implicit measures. Future research focusing on the ASCS should seek to investigate the generalizability of our findings to patient populations, and incorporate relational information within that procedure to further improve upon its already-strong utility. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/adb0000643DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8081735PMC
June 2021

When pain becomes uncontrollable: an experimental analysis of the impact of instructions on pain-control attempts.

Pain 2021 03;162(3):760-769

Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Abstract: Under some conditions, people persist in their attempts to control their pain even when no such control is possible. Theory suggests that such pain-control attempts arise from actual pain experiences. Across 3 experiments we examined how (1) losing control over pain and (2) instructions concerning pain, moderated pain-control attempts. In each experiment, participants completed a learning task. Before the task, one group of participants received instructions outlining a strategy through which they could control pain, whereas another group had to develop such a strategy through trial-and-error learning. During the first half of the task, the pain-control instructions allowed participants to successfully control pain, whereas during the second half of the task, this was no longer the case. Instead, participants lost control over pain because of an unannounced change in the learning task. Results indicated that when participants lost control over pain, they generally stuck to the previously effective pain-control strategy, and that this tendency was larger if they received instructions from others than when they developed a strategy by themselves. These findings suggest that when pain is no longer controllable, very persistent pain-control attempts might be the result of adherence to previously effective pain-control instructions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002088DOI Listing
March 2021

Reducing attention bias in spider fear by manipulating expectancies.

Behav Res Ther 2020 12 19;135:103729. Epub 2020 Sep 19.

Department of Psychology, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel; The Integrated Brain and Behavior Research Center (IBBR), University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel.

The present series of studies examines the causal interaction between expectancy and attention biases in spider fear. Previous studies found that a-priori expectancy does not affect attention bias toward spiders, as measured by detection of spider targets in a subsequent visual search array compared to detection of bird targets (i.e. neutral targets) that appeared equally often. In the present series of studies, target frequency was manipulated. Targets were preceded by a verbal cue stating the likelihood that a certain target would appear. The aim was to examine whether manipulation of expectancies toward either target affects attention bias. In Experiment 1, birds appeared more frequently than spiders. Among a representative sample of the student population, attention bias toward spiders was significantly reduced. Experiment 2 replicated these results with both low- and high-fearful participants. In Experiment 3, spiders appeared more frequently than birds. Attention bias was reduced among low- and high-fearful groups, but not as strongly as the reduction in Experiments 1 and 2. These results suggest that target salience plays a role in attention bias, in competition with expectancy. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that varying expectancy can reduce attention bias, most importantly in high fear.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2020.103729DOI Listing
December 2020

Erasing the Homunculus as an Ongoing Mission: A Reply to the Commentaries.

J Cogn 2020 Sep 10;3(1):28. Epub 2020 Sep 10.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, BE.

In our recent article (Schmidt, Liefooghe, & De Houwer, 2020, this volume), we presented an adaptation of the Parallel Episodic Processing (PEP) model for simulating instruction following and task-switching behaviour. In this paper, we respond to five commentaries on our article: Monsell & McLaren (2020), Koch & Lavric (2020), Meiran (2020), Longman (2020), and Pfeuffer (2020). The commentaries discuss potential future modelling goals, deeper reflections on cognitive control, and some potential challenges for our theoretical perspective and associated model. We focus primarily on the latter. In particular, we clarify that we (a) acknowledge the role of cognitive control in task switching, and (b) are arguing that certain task-switching effects do not serve as a good measure of said cognitive control. We also discuss some ambiguities in terminological uses (e.g., the meaning of "task-set reconfiguration"), along with some future experimental and modelling research directions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/joc.117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7485404PMC
September 2020

An Episodic Model of Task Switching Effects: Erasing the Homunculus from Memory.

J Cogn 2020 Sep 10;3(1):22. Epub 2020 Sep 10.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, BE.

The Parallel Episodic Processing (PEP) model is a neural network for simulating human performance in speeded response time tasks. It learns with an exemplar-based memory store and it is capable of modelling findings from various subdomains of cognition. In this paper, we show how the PEP model can be designed to follow instructions (e.g., task rules and goals). The extended PEP model is then used to simulate a number of key findings from the task switching domain. These include the switch cost, task-rule congruency effects, response repetition asymmetries, cue repetition benefits, and the full pattern of means from a recent feature integration decomposition of cued task switching (Schmidt & Liefooghe, 2016). We demonstrate that the PEP model fits the participant data well, that the model does not possess the flexibility to match any pattern of results, and that a number of competing task switching models fail to account for key observations that the PEP model produces naturally. Given the parsimony and unique explanatory power of the episodic account presented here, our results suggest that feature-integration biases have a far greater power in explaining task-switching performance than previously assumed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/joc.97DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7485406PMC
September 2020

The rule-based insensitivity effect: a systematic review.

PeerJ 2020 23;8:e9496. Epub 2020 Jul 23.

Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Background: Adherence to inaccurate rules has been viewed as a characteristic of human rule-following (i.e., the rule-based insensitivity effect; RBIE) and has been thought to be exacerbated in individuals suffering from clinical conditions. This review intended to systematically examine these claims in adult populations.

Methodology: We screened 1464 records which resulted in 21 studies that were deemed eligible for inclusion. Each of these studies was examined to determine: (1) if there is evidence for the RBIE in adults and (2) if this effect is larger in those suffering from psychological problems compared to their non-suffering counterparts. In addition, we investigated how (3) different operationalizations of the RBIE, and (4) the external validity and risks of bias of the experimental work investigating this effect, might influence the conclusions that can be drawn from the current systematic review.

Results: (1) Out of the 20 studies that were relevant for examining if evidence exists for the RBIE in adults, only 11 were eligible for vote counting. Results showed that after the contingency change, the rule groups were more inclined to demonstrate behavior that was reinforced before the change, compared to their non-instructed counterparts. Critically, however, none of these studies examined if their no-instructions group was an adequate comparison group. As a result, this made it difficult to determine whether the effects that were observed in the rule groups could be attributed to the rules or instructions that were manipulated in those experiments. (2) The single study that was relevant for examining if adults suffering from psychological problems demonstrated larger levels of the RBIE, compared to their non-clinical counterparts, was not eligible for vote counting. As a result, no conclusions could be drawn about the extent to which psychological problems moderated the RBIE in that study. (3) Similar procedures and tasks have been used to examine the RBIE, but their precise parameters differ across studies; and (4) most studies report insufficient information to evaluate all relevant aspects affecting their external validity and risks of bias.

Conclusions: Despite the widespread appeal that the RBIE has enjoyed, this systematic review indicates that, at present, only preliminary evidence exists for the idea that adults demonstrate the RBIE and no evidence is available to assume that psychological problems exacerbate the RBIE in adults.The systematic review was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42018088210).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.9496DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7382939PMC
July 2020

Environmentally Sustainable Food Consumption: A Review and Research Agenda From a Goal-Directed Perspective.

Front Psychol 2020 10;11:1603. Epub 2020 Jul 10.

BE4LIFE, Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

The challenge of convincing people to change their eating habits toward more environmentally sustainable food consumption (ESFC) patterns is becoming increasingly pressing. Food preferences, choices and eating habits are notoriously hard to change as they are a central aspect of people's lifestyles and their socio-cultural environment. Many people already hold positive attitudes toward sustainable food, but the notable gap between favorable attitudes and actual purchase and consumption of more sustainable food products remains to be bridged. The current work aims to (1) present a comprehensive theoretical framework for future research on ESFC, and (2) highlight behavioral solutions for environmental challenges in the food domain from an interdisciplinary perspective. First, starting from the premise that food consumption is deliberately or unintentionally directed at attaining goals, a goal-directed framework for understanding and influencing ESFC is built. To engage in goal-directed behavior, people typically go through a series of sequential steps. The proposed theoretical framework makes explicit the sequential steps or hurdles that need to be taken for consumers to engage in ESFC. Consumers need to positively value the environment, discern a discrepancy between the desired versus the actual state of the environment, opt for action to reduce the experienced discrepancy, intend to engage in behavior that is expected to bring them closer to the desired end state, and act in accordance with their intention. Second, a critical review of the literature on mechanisms that underlie and explain ESFC (or the lack thereof) in high-income countries is presented and integrated into the goal-directed framework. This contribution thus combines a top-down conceptualization with a bottom-up literature review; it identifies and discusses factors that might hold people back from ESFC and interventions that might promote ESFC; and it reveals knowledge gaps as well as insights on how to encourage both short- and long-term ESFC by confronting extant literature with the theoretical framework. Altogether, the analysis yields a set of 33 future research questions in the interdisciplinary food domain that deserve to be addressed with the aim of fostering ESFC in the short and long term.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01603DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7381298PMC
July 2020

The shared features principle: If two objects share a feature, people assume those objects also share other features.

J Exp Psychol Gen 2020 Dec 18;149(12):2264-2288. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology.

In this article we introduce the , which refers to the idea that when 2 stimuli share 1 feature, people often assume that they share other features as well. This principle can be recognized in several known psychological phenomena, most of which were until now never considered to be related in this way. To illustrate the generative power of the principle, we report 8 preregistered studies ( = 1,614) in which participants completed an acquisition phase containing 3 stimuli: a neutral target, a positive source, and a negative source. Our results indicate that behavioral intentions, automatic evaluations, and self-reported ratings of a target object were influenced by the source object with which the target shared a feature. This was even the case when participants were told that there was no relation between source and target objects. Taken together, the shared features principle appears to be general, reliable, and replicable across a range of measures in the attitude domain. We close with a discussion of its theoretical implications, relevance to many areas of psychological science, as well as its heuristic and predictive value. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000777DOI Listing
December 2020

On the effectiveness of approach-avoidance instructions and training for changing evaluations of social groups.

J Pers Soc Psychol 2020 Aug 9;119(2):e1-e14. Epub 2020 Mar 9.

Department of Psychology.

Prior evidence suggests that White participants who repeatedly approach images of Black people and avoid images of White people can exhibit a reduction in implicit racial bias (Kawakami, Phills, Steele, & Dovidio, 2007). In contrast, a recent study by Van Dessel, De Houwer, Gast, and Smith (2015) showed that mere instructions to perform approach-avoidance training in an upcoming phase produces a similar change in implicit evaluations of unfamiliar but not familiar social groups. We report 4 experiments that examined the replicability and generalizability of these findings for well-known social groups. Experiment 1 was a replication of the study by Kawakami et al. (2007) in a different domain (i.e., Flemish students' bias toward Turkish people) showing relatively weak evidence for small approach-avoidance training effects on implicit evaluations and explicit liking ratings. Experiment 2 replicated the finding of Van Dessel et al. (2015) that approach-avoidance instructions do not influence implicit evaluations of social out-groups and found no instruction effects even when participants first completed training with nonsocial stimuli. Experiment 3 established the presence of a small approach-avoidance training effect on implicit (but not explicit evaluations) in a large online sample. Experiment 4 directly compared approach-avoidance training and instruction effects, corroborating (a) the effect of training on implicit evaluations which was both small and subject to boundary conditions and (b) the absence of such an effect of instructions. There were again no effects on explicit evaluations. Whereas the current findings provide supportive evidence for training-based approach-avoidance effects (on Implicit Association Test [IAT] scores: meta-analytic effect size current experiments: = 0.18, Bayes Factor = 65.22; current and prior experiments: = 0.23, Bayes Factor = 4404.42) and evidence for the absence of instruction-based effects (Bayes Factors < 0.19), they also illustrate that there is still much uncertainty regarding the boundary conditions of these effects and the underlying mental processes. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000189DOI Listing
August 2020

Revisiting classical conditioning as a model for anxiety disorders: A conceptual analysis and brief review.

Authors:
Jan De Houwer

Behav Res Ther 2020 04 20;127:103558. Epub 2020 Jan 20.

Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Electronic address:

For almost a century now, conditioning research has provided important insights in the etiology and treatment of anxiety disorders. Nevertheless, doubts were raised about whether anxiety disorders are related to conditioning. In this paper, I focus on distinguishing different claims about the relation between anxiety disorders and conditioning as well as ways of evaluating the merits of these claims. More specifically, a distinction is made between the claim that anxiety disorders are conditioning effects and the claim that anxiety disorders are due to a specific type of conditioning mechanism (i.e., the formation and activation of S-R associations, S-S associations, or propositions). Based on a brief review of the literature, I clarify which pieces of evidence are relevant for which claims and illustrate that different claims are differentially supported by the available evidence. Finally, I discuss two strategic reasons for conceptualizing anxiety disorders as conditioning effects rather than as effects of a particular conditioning mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2020.103558DOI Listing
April 2020

Tackling fear: Beyond associative memory activation as the only determinant of fear responding.

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2020 05 11;112:410-419. Epub 2020 Feb 11.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Belgium.

For decades already, the human fear conditioning paradigm has been used to study and develop treatments for anxiety disorders. This research is guided by theoretical assumptions that, in some cases indirectly, stem from the tradition of association formation models (e.g., the Rescorla-Wagner model). We argue that one of these assumptions - fear responding as a monotonic function of the associative activation of aversive memory representations - restricts the types of treatment that the research community currently considers. We discuss the importance of this assumption in the context of research on extinction-enhancing and reconsolidation interference techniques. While acknowledging the merit of this research, we argue that unstrapping the straitjacket of this assumption can lead to exploring new directions for utilizing fear conditioning procedures in treatment research. We discuss two determinants of fear responding other than associative memory activation. First, fear responding might also depend on relational information. Second, a recent goal-directed emotion theory suggests that goals might be the primary determinant of the response pattern characterized as fear.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.02.009DOI Listing
May 2020

The Instructed Task-Switch Evaluation Effect: Is the Instruction to Switch Tasks Sufficient to Dislike Task Switch Cues?

J Cogn 2020 Jan 7;3(1). Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Ghent University, BE.

It is often argued that people dislike situations in which there is conflict requiring cognitive control, possibly because it is effortful to resolve this conflict. In a recent study, Vermeylen, Braem, and Notebaert (2019) provided evidence for this idea in the context of task switching. They observed that participants evaluated cues signaling a task switch more negatively than cues signaling a task repetition in a task switching paradigm. The present study examined whether this evaluative bias can be observed also on the basis of mere instructions. We instructed participants that two non-words would either signal the requirement to switch or to repeat tasks in an upcoming task switching block, which was actually never administered. In Experiment 1, we did not observe more positive implicit or explicit evaluations of the instructed task repetition compared to the task switch cue. In Experiment 2, participants first completed a task switching block in which a first pair of transition cues were used. We then provided task switching instructions that described the signaling function of a second pair of cues, which would be used in an upcoming (but never administered) second task switching block. Participants showed a clear preference for both instructed and experienced task repetition cues on explicit but not on implicit evaluations. Experiment 3 replicated the instructed task-switch evaluation effect on explicit evaluations in the context of prior task experience (but not without prior experience) and extended it to implicit evaluations. We discuss theoretical implications and potential explanations of this task-switch evaluation effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/joc.90DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6952966PMC
January 2020

On How Definitions of Habits Can Complicate Habit Research.

Authors:
Jan De Houwer

Front Psychol 2019 29;10:2642. Epub 2019 Nov 29.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

The core message of this paper is that many of the challenges of habit research can be traced back to the presence of causal elements within the definition of habits. For instance, the idea that habits are stimulus-driven implies that habitual behavior is not causally mediated by goal-representations. The presence of these causal elements in the definition of habits leads to difficulties in establishing empirically whether behavior is habitual. Some of these elements can also impoverish theoretical thinking about the mechanisms underlying habitual behavior. I argue that habit research would benefit from eliminating any reference to specific S-R association formation theories from the definition of habits. Which causal elements are retained in the definition of habits depends on the goals of researchers. However, regardless of the definition that is selected, it is good to be aware of the implications of the definition of habits for empirical and theoretical research on habits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02642DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6895142PMC
November 2019

Moving Beyond System 1 and System 2.

Authors:
Jan De Houwer

Exp Psychol 2019 Jul;66(4):257-265

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Belgium.

It is generally assumed that relational knowledge is the foundation of higher cognition such as (analogical and conditional) reasoning, language, the use of relational categories, and planning. Dual-system models (e.g., Kahneman, 2011) that divide the realm of cognition into two systems with opposing properties (e.g., fast vs. slow, intentional vs. unintentional, conscious vs. unconscious, associative vs. propositional) foster the view that other psychological phenomena are not relational in nature. In this paper, I argue that the impact of relational knowledge is more widespread than dual-system models imply. More specifically, I review evidence suggesting that also Pavlovian conditioning, implicit evaluation, and habitual responding are mediated by relational knowledge. Considering the idea that relational knowledge underlies also fast, unintentional, unconscious, and seemingly associative psychological phenomena is not only theoretically important but also reveals new opportunities for influencing thinking and behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000450DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7037735PMC
July 2019

Dissociations between Learning Phenomena do Not Necessitate Multiple Learning Processes: Mere Instructions about Upcoming Stimulus Presentations Differentially Influence Liking and Expectancy.

J Cogn 2019 Mar 1;2(1). Epub 2019 Mar 1.

Ghent University, BE.

Prior research showed that the degree of statistical contingency between the presence of stimuli moderates changes in expectancies about the presence of those stimuli (i.e., expectancy learning) but not changes in the liking of those stimuli (i.e., evaluative conditioning). This dissociation is typically interpreted as evidence for dual process models of associative learning. We tested an alternative account according to which both types of learning rely on a single process propositional learning mechanism but reflect different kinds of propositional beliefs. In line with the idea that changes in liking reflect beliefs about stimulus co-occurrences whereas changes in expectancy reflect beliefs about stimulus contingency, we found that evaluative ratings depended only on instructions about whether a stimulus would co-occur with a positive or negative stimulus whereas expectancy ratings were influenced also by instructions about individual stimulus presentations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/joc.59DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6634332PMC
March 2019

Hypnotic Suggestions Can Induce Rapid Change in Implicit Attitudes.

Psychol Sci 2019 09 14;30(9):1362-1370. Epub 2019 Aug 14.

Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University.

We sometimes evaluate our environment (e.g., persons, objects, situations) in an automatic fashion. These automatic or implicit evaluations are often considered to be based on qualitatively distinct mental processes compared with more controlled or explicit evaluations. Important evidence for this claim comes from studies showing that implicit evaluations do not change as the result of counterattitudinal information, in contrast to their explicit counterparts. We examined the impact of counterattitudinal information on implicit evaluations in two experiments ( = 60, = 72) that included an innovative manipulation: hypnotic suggestions to participants that they would strongly process upcoming counterattitudinal information. Both experiments indicated that hypnotic suggestions facilitated effects of counterattitudinal information on implicit evaluations. These findings extend recent evidence for rapid revision of implicit evaluations on the basis of counterattitudinal information and support the controversial idea that belief-based processes underlie not only explicit but also implicit evaluations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797619865183DOI Listing
September 2019
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