(Working toward) affective transfer in the real world

Tessa M. Ditonto, Richard R. Lau

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Lodge and Taber’s John Q. Public (JPQ) model of voter decision-making posits that political behavior is primarily the result of automatic, unconscious cognitive processes such as affect transfer, or the idea that implicit affective primes can transfer positive or negative feelings to a target of thought. Evidence for affect transfer comes from experiments conducted in highly controlled laboratory settings and with very particular protocols. This chapter examines whether affect transfer also occurs in less rigid experimental contexts. In particular, we are interested in whether evaluations of fictitious political candidates are influenced by the presentation of subliminal affective primes under several different conditions: 1) when they are presented outside of the lab (and conducted on the personal computers of MTurk workers), 2) when they are presented without the rigid protocol followed by Lodge and Taber, and 3) when subjects are exposed to fewer primes over the course of the experiment than in Lodge and Taber’s studies. In sum, we find that under these less rigid conditions, affect transfer does seem to occur more often than we would expect from chance, and more often in some scenarios than others. Specifically, we find that effects seem to be stronger when subjects are exposed to more than one prime per candidate, when images are used as primes (rather than words), and when candidates are evaluated individually and immediately following exposure to the primes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Feeling, Thinking Citizen
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honor of Milton Lodge
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781351215930
ISBN (Print)9780815379393
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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