Evaluative Conditioning 2.0: Direct and Indirect Transfer of Affect to Brands



When a brand co-occurs repeatedly with a positively valenced affective stimulus, the brand becomes more positively evaluated itself. The underlying associative learning process is referred to as evaluative conditioning. The leading theory about evaluative conditioning holds that the positive affect only becomes indirectly associated to the brand. Indirect evaluative conditioning means that after repeated co-occurences, the brand evokes (un)conscious memories of the affective stimulus, which in turn cause the brand to be evaluated more positively. In this article, I introduce a new theory and show that evaluative conditioning can also be direct. In this case, the positive affect from the affective stimulus becomes directly attached to the brand and the positive response to the brand no longer relies on (un)conscious memories of the affective stimulus. Importantly, I show when each type of evaluative conditioning takes place (experiments 1 and 2). I also demonstrate that direct affect transfer is much less susceptible to the negative effects on brand equity of associated affective stimuli such as endorsers losing their luster (experiment 2) and is much less vulnerable to interference by new learning (experiment 3).
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Dr. S. Puntoni