Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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The automatic evaluation literature and the survivability memory enhancement effect (Nairne et al., 2007) suggest that stimuli might be automatically categorized along an approach/withdraw dimension. Duckworth et al. (2002) showed that such effects hold even for novel stimuli. The current study is a more rigorous test of the idea that such effects reflect a general organizing principle of cognitive-perceptual processing. Participants performed auditory (Experiment 1) or visual (Experiment 2) lexical decision. The pseudowords had been previously rated by different participants on subjective Danger and Usefulness. RTs for the pseudowords showed the same Danger × Usefulness interaction observed several times for real words: increasing Danger speeded RTs for words lower on Usefulness but slowed RTs for words higher on Usefulness. Danger and Usefulness classifications are an integral part of routine stimulus processing from the very first exposure. Results are discussed in terms of a general organizing principle of human cognition.


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