Learning & Behavior

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 1–20 | Cite as

The propositional approach to associative learning as an alternative for association formation models

  • Jan De HouwerEmail author


Associative learning effects can be defined as changes in behavior that are due to relations between events in the world. Most often, these effects are explained in terms of the formation of unqualified associations in memory. I describe an alternative theoretical explanation, according to which associative learning effects are the result of the nonautomatic generation and evaluation of propositions about relations between events. This idea is supported by many studies showing that associative learning effects are determined not only by the direct experience of events but also by prior knowledge, instructions, intervention, and deductive reasoning. Moreover, evidence supports the assumption that associative learning effects depend on nonautomatic processes. Whereas a propositional approach thus offers many new insights, questions can be raised about what the idea of association formation adds to our understanding of associative learning.


Associative Learning Association Formation Evaluative Conditioning Retrospective Revaluation Propositional Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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