Affective reactions and context-dependent processing of negations
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Three experiments demonstrate how the processing of negations is contingent on the evaluation context in which the negative information is presented. In addition, the strategy used to process the negations induced different affective reactions toward the stimuli, leading to inconsistency of preference. Participants were presented with stimuli described by either stating the presence of positive features (explicitly positive alternative) or negating the presence of negative features (non-negative alternative). Alternatives were presented for either joint (JE) or separate evaluation (SE). Experiment 1 showed that the non-negative stimuli were judged less attractive than the positive ones in JE but not in SE. Experiment 2 revealed that the non-negative stimuli induced a less clear and less positive feeling when they were paired with explicitly positive stimuli rather than evaluated separately. Non-negative options were also found less easy to judge than the positive ones in JE but not in SE. Finally, Experiment 3 showed that people process negations using two different models depending on the evaluation mode. Through a memory task, we found that in JE people process the non-negative attributes as negations of negative features, whereas in SE they directly process the non-negative attributes as positive features.