Behaviorally oriented social psychologists have used principles of classical conditioning to describe and explain attitude formation. Repeated and systematic association between the attitude object (conditioned stimulus) and a positively or negatively valued event (unconditioned stimulus) is assumed to produce a favorable or unfavorable implicit reaction (attitude) to the object. Controversy revolves around the question of awareness—the extent to which awareness of the object-event contingencies is a necessary requirement for conditioning of attitude. Although the issue has not been completely resolved, few studies have clearly demonstrated automatic conditioning of attitude without contingency awareness.
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