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Propositional Accounts of Implicit Evaluation: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead

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Associative accounts suggest that implicit (indirectly measured) evaluations are sensitive primarily to co-occurrence information (e.g., pairings of gorges with positive experiences) and are represented associatively (e.g., Gorge–Nice). By contrast, recent propositional accounts have argued that implicit evaluations are also responsive to relational information (e.g., gorges causing vs. preventing ennui) and are represented propositionally (e.g., “I find gorges fascinating”). In a review of 30 empirical papers involving exposure to contradictory co-occurrence information and relational information, we found overwhelming evidence for the latter dominating the updating of implicit evaluations, supporting the propositional perspective. However, unlike explicit evaluations, implicit evaluations seem recalcitrant in the face of relational information that requires retrospective revaluation of already encoded co-occurrence information. These findings may be jointly explained by a “common currency” hypothesis under which implicit evaluations emerge from compressed summary representations, which are sensitive to relational information but are not fully propositional.