Evaluation – liking and disliking – is central to everyday psychological life. Our evaluations of individuals, groups, objects, activities, and concepts shape how we interact with the world. This ubiquity demands that we understand how, when and why evaluations can be established and changed.
The field of learning psychology has studied how arranging the environment in specific ways influences evaluations. For example, repeated exposure to a single stimulus, the pairing of stimuli, or establishing consequences for behaviour. The field’s focus over the past century on just these three regularities in how the environment can be arranged has had a profound impact on psychological science as a whole. Outside of the laboratory, these regularities regularly underpin efforts to influence our evaluations in many domains, from advertising and health interventions to psychotherapy.
This project brings together two traditionally distinct domains of work for the first time by expanding the boundaries of learning psychology to consider analogical inference. We have defined several entirely new regularities that influence evaluations, all of which can be described as types of analogical evaluative learning. This project will explore these new learning pathways in
order to produce knowledge that is readily convertible into behavioural technology that aids psychologists of all types to engineer attitudes, behaviours, and preferences, both in the laboratory and in the real world.