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On the effectiveness of approach-avoidance instructions and training for changing evaluations of social groups

Pieter Van Dessel (UGent) , Jan De Houwer (UGent) , Anne Gast (UGent) , Arne Roets (UGent) and Colin Tucker Smith
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Abstract
Prior evidence suggests that White participants who repeatedly approach images of Black people and avoid images of White people can exhibit a reduction in implicit racial bias (Kawakami. Phills, Steele, & Dovidio. 2007). In contrast, a recent study by Van Dessel, De Houwer, Gast. and Smith (2015) showed that mere instructions to perform approach-avoidance training in an upcoming phase produces a similar change in implicit evaluations of unfamiliar but not familiar social groups. We report 4 experiments that examined the replicability and generalizability of these findings for well-known social groups. Experiment 1 was a replication of the study by Kawakami et al. (2007) in a different domain (i.e., Flemish students' bias toward Turkish people) showing relatively weak evidence for small approach-avoidance training effects on implicit evaluations and explicit liking ratings. Experiment 2 replicated the finding of Van Dessel et al. (2015) that approach-avoidance instructions do not influence implicit evaluations of social out-groups and found no instruction effects even when participants first completed training with nonsocial stimuli. Experiment 3 established the presence of a small approach-avoidance training effect on implicit (but not explicit evaluations) in a large online sample. Experiment 4 directly compared approach-avoidance training and instruction effects, corroborating (a) the effect of training on implicit evaluations which was both small and subject to boundary conditions and (b) the absence of such an effect of instructions. There were again no effects on explicit evaluations. Whereas the current findings provide supportive evidence for training-based approach-avoidance effects (on Implicit Association Test [IAT] scores: meta-analytic effect size current experiments: d = 0.18. Bayes Factor = 65.22; current and prior experiments: d = 0.23, Bayes Factor = 4404.42) and evidence for the absence of instruction-based effects (Bayes Factors < 0.19), they also illustrate that there is still much uncertainty regarding the boundary conditions of these effects and the underlying mental processes.
Keywords
Sociology and Political Science, Social Psychology

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MLA
Van Dessel, Pieter, et al. “On the Effectiveness of Approach-Avoidance Instructions and Training for Changing Evaluations of Social Groups.” JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 119, no. 2, 2020, pp. E1–14, doi:10.1037/pspa0000189.
APA
Van Dessel, P., De Houwer, J., Gast, A., Roets, A., & Smith, C. T. (2020). On the effectiveness of approach-avoidance instructions and training for changing evaluations of social groups. JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 119(2), E1–E14. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000189
Chicago author-date
Van Dessel, Pieter, Jan De Houwer, Anne Gast, Arne Roets, and Colin Tucker Smith. 2020. “On the Effectiveness of Approach-Avoidance Instructions and Training for Changing Evaluations of Social Groups.” JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY 119 (2): E1–14. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000189.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Dessel, Pieter, Jan De Houwer, Anne Gast, Arne Roets, and Colin Tucker Smith. 2020. “On the Effectiveness of Approach-Avoidance Instructions and Training for Changing Evaluations of Social Groups.” JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY 119 (2): E1–E14. doi:10.1037/pspa0000189.
Vancouver
1.
Van Dessel P, De Houwer J, Gast A, Roets A, Smith CT. On the effectiveness of approach-avoidance instructions and training for changing evaluations of social groups. JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY. 2020;119(2):E1–14.
IEEE
[1]
P. Van Dessel, J. De Houwer, A. Gast, A. Roets, and C. T. Smith, “On the effectiveness of approach-avoidance instructions and training for changing evaluations of social groups,” JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 119, no. 2, pp. E1–E14, 2020.
@article{8666973,
  abstract     = {Prior evidence suggests that White participants who repeatedly approach images of Black people and avoid images of White people can exhibit a reduction in implicit racial bias (Kawakami. Phills, Steele, & Dovidio. 2007). In contrast, a recent study by Van Dessel, De Houwer, Gast. and Smith (2015) showed that mere instructions to perform approach-avoidance training in an upcoming phase produces a similar change in implicit evaluations of unfamiliar but not familiar social groups. We report 4 experiments that examined the replicability and generalizability of these findings for well-known social groups. Experiment 1 was a replication of the study by Kawakami et al. (2007) in a different domain (i.e., Flemish students' bias toward Turkish people) showing relatively weak evidence for small approach-avoidance training effects on implicit evaluations and explicit liking ratings. Experiment 2 replicated the finding of Van Dessel et al. (2015) that approach-avoidance instructions do not influence implicit evaluations of social out-groups and found no instruction effects even when participants first completed training with nonsocial stimuli. Experiment 3 established the presence of a small approach-avoidance training effect on implicit (but not explicit evaluations) in a large online sample. Experiment 4 directly compared approach-avoidance training and instruction effects, corroborating (a) the effect of training on implicit evaluations which was both small and subject to boundary conditions and (b) the absence of such an effect of instructions. There were again no effects on explicit evaluations. Whereas the current findings provide supportive evidence for training-based approach-avoidance effects (on Implicit Association Test [IAT] scores: meta-analytic effect size current experiments: d = 0.18. Bayes Factor = 65.22; current and prior experiments: d = 0.23, Bayes Factor = 4404.42) and evidence for the absence of instruction-based effects (Bayes Factors < 0.19), they also illustrate that there is still much uncertainty regarding the boundary conditions of these effects and the underlying mental processes.},
  author       = {Van Dessel, Pieter and De Houwer, Jan and Gast, Anne and Roets, Arne and Smith, Colin Tucker},
  issn         = {0022-3514},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY},
  keywords     = {Sociology and Political Science,Social Psychology},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {E1--E14},
  title        = {On the effectiveness of approach-avoidance instructions and training for changing evaluations of social groups},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000189},
  volume       = {119},
  year         = {2020},
}

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