When Do Motor Behaviors (Mis)Match Affective Stimuli? An Evaluative Coding View of Approach and Avoidance Reactions

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Affective-mapping effects between affective stimuli and lever movements are critically dependent upon the evaluative meaning of the response labels that are used in the task instructions. In Experiments 1 and 2, affective-mapping effects predicted by specific-muscle-activation and distance-regulation accounts were replicated when the standard response labels towards and away were used but were reversed when identical lever movements were labeled downwards and upwards. In Experiment 3, affective-mapping effects were produced with affectively labeled right and left lever movements that are intrinsically unrelated to approach and avoidance. Experiments 4 and 5 revealed that affective-mapping effects are not mediated by memory retrieval processes and depend on the execution of affectively coded responses. The results support the assumption that evaluative implications of action instructions assign affective codes to motor responses on a representational level that interact with stimulus evaluations on a response selection stage.

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