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Self-generated cognitive fluency: Consequences on evaluative judgments

von Hecker, Ulrich ORCID:, Hanel, Paul H. P., Jin, Zixi ORCID: and Winkielman, Piotr 2023. Self-generated cognitive fluency: Consequences on evaluative judgments. Cognition & Emotion 37 (2) , pp. 254-270. 10.1080/02699931.2022.2161482

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People can support abstract reasoning by using mental models with spatial simulations. Such models are employed when people represent elements in terms of ordered dimensions (e.g. who is oldest, Tom, Dick, or Harry). We test and find that the process of forming and using such mental models can influence the liking of its elements (e.g. Tom, Dick, or Harry). The presumed internal structure of such models (linear-transitive array of elements), generates variations in processing ease (fluency) when using the model in working memory (see the Symbolic Distance Effect, SDE). Specifically, processing of pairs where elements have larger distances along the order should be easier compared to pairs with smaller distances. Elements from easier pairs should be liked more than elements from difficult pairs (fluency being hedonically positive). Experiment 1 shows that unfamiliar ideographs are liked more when at wider distances and therefore easier to process. Experiment 2 replicates this effect with non-words. Experiment 3 rules out a non-spatial explanation of the effect while Experiments 4 offers a high-powered replication. Experiment 5 shows that the spatial effect spontaneously emerges after learning, even without a task that explicitly focuses on fluency. Experiment 6 employed a shorter array, but yielded no significant results.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0269-9931
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 19 December 2022
Last Modified: 20 May 2024 19:21

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