Automatic affective evaluation does not automatically predispose for arm flexion and extension

Mark Rotteveel, R Hans Phaf


Affect may have the function of preparing organisms for action, enabling approach and avoidance behavior. M. Chen and J. A. Bargh (1999) suggested that affective processing automatically resulted in action tendencies for arm flexion and extension. The crucial question is, however, whether automaticity of evaluation was actually achieved or whether their results were due to nonautomatic, conscious processing. When faces with emotional expressions were evaluated consciously, similar effects were obtained as in the M. Chen and J. A. Bargh study. When conscious evaluation was reduced, however, no action tendencies were observed, whereas affective processing of the faces was still evident from affective priming effects. The results suggest that tendencies for arm flexion and extension are not automatic consequences of automatic affective information processing.


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