Transitive Relations Cause Indirect Association Formation between Concepts Academic Article uri icon


  • Social knowledge is often inferred without direct experience. The present research shows that associations between concepts, affective and nonaffective, can be formed without experience through the principle of transitivity. In four studies, strengthening the association between one concept and a second concept, and then between the second concept and a third concept, strengthened the association between the first and the third concepts despite never presenting them together. Study 2 and 3 showed that valence and identity, core features of social knowledge, were more effective association “carriers”(ie, the shared concept in a transitive association formation) than animals and loudness. In Study 4, inducing the two direct associations without awareness created automatic transitive associations, but not self-reported transitive associations. Self-reported associations were …

publication date

  • January 1, 2008