Affective and Cognitive Factors in Preferences

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Citation: Robert Zajonc, Hazel Markus Affective and Cognitive Factors in Preferences.




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Summary:

The authors state that affective factors have an important role in the development and maintenance of preferences and that the representation of affect might have a variety of forms, such as motor responses and somatic reaction. This, the authors claim, help explain why cognitive methods of preference-change directed at only one form of representation have rarely been effective. The authors state that attitudes can be formed with affective factors alone, with cognitive factors alone or with a combinations of cognitive and affective factors. They underline the existence of the affective factors by explaining how ethic groups become fond of pungent-flavored food by overcoming strong negative affect by other significant affective factors, such as parental reinforcement, social conformity pressures and identification with the group. Furthermore, the authors suggest that to be able to change a preference, one must identify the object’s features and then try to influence the person’s evaluations of these features. The authors studied the “exposure effect” and found that when objects are presented on repeated occasions, the mere exposure is capable of making the individual’s attitude toward these objects more positive. Finally, they state that to change an attitude that has evolved from affective sources may require different methods from those needed in changing an attitude based on cognition.