Conceptual overlap between stimuli increases misattribution of internal experience

Yael Ecker*, Yoav Bar-Anan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People make sense of their internal experiences by attributing them to objects (I am excited because he is here). This attribution decision influences one's opinion of the object (I like him). Misattribution occurs when the internal experience is triggered by one object (a prime), but attributed to another (a target). The present research used the Affect Misattribution Procedure to examine the influence of conceptual overlap between the prime and the target on misattribution of valenced internal experiences. For instance, would people misattribute the pleasure activated by a flower prime to a target flower more than to a person? We argue that the valence of the internal experience does not enter the attribution process alone, but is rather accompanied by semantic properties related to the object that generated the experience. Consequently, misattribution occurs more when prime and target are conceptually similar. Four experiments (Total N = 3183) supported that prediction, using diverse primes and targets. The results suggest that the semantic properties of the internal experience help guide the attribution process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Affect misattribution procedure
  • Attribution
  • Implicit measures
  • Misattribution
  • Priming


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