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The Stimulus’ Orienting Function May Play an Important Role in IRAP Performance: Supportive Evidence from an Eye-Tracking Study of Brands


The Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) has been typically used to access behavioral biases to relations that the participants learned throughout their history of social interactions. Recent research has highlighted the role of the stimulus orienting function on IRAP performance. The present study used the IRAP to assess preference biases for smartphone application (app) icons, namely WhatsApp and Messenger, and intended to check if these biases correspond to the orienting function of these stimuli in a visual search paradigm monitored by eye tracking. The IRAP presented relations between the WhatsApp and Messenger icons and happy or angry facial expressions. The visual search task had two steps: in Step 1, matrices of app icons were designed to emulate smartphone screens, and the participant was instructed to find either the WhatsApp or the Messenger icon; in Step 2, happy or angry faces were presented as targets in matrices of pictures of neutral faces that functioned as distractors. Participants were more prompted to respond Yes than No to the relation between the WhatsApp icon and happy facial expressions in IRAP trials, and showed ambivalent bias to the Messenger icon. Regarding the visual search performance, participants’ were faster to find the WhatsApp target than to find the Messenger target. In addition, they were faster to find the happy targets than the angry targets. Results from the current study corroborate the hypothesis that the stimulus orienting function may play an important role on IRAP performance and, as a result, are supportive to the Differential Arbitrarily Applicable Relational Responding Effects (DAARRE) model.

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This work was part of the research program of Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino (National Institute of Science and Technology on Behavior, Cognition, and Teaching), under the leadership of Deisy G. de Souza and supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, Grant # 2014/50909-8) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Grant # 465686/2014-1).

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Correspondence to Joana Andrade Ramalho Pinto.

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Data supporting the findings presented in this article can be found at and through doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/QNVBH.

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Pinto, J.A.R., de Almeida, R.V. & Bortoloti, R. The Stimulus’ Orienting Function May Play an Important Role in IRAP Performance: Supportive Evidence from an Eye-Tracking Study of Brands. Psychol Rec 70, 257–266 (2020).

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  • IRAP
  • eye tracking
  • WhatsApp
  • Messenger
  • facial expressions
  • orienting function
  • DAARRE model