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Die Antonymie-Heuristik: Automatische Falsifikation Valenter Information

Weil, Rebecca


Rebecca Weil


The aim of the present research was to find evidence for the existence of an antonym-heuristic when valenced (positive or negative) information is falsified. According to former studies falsification is a non-automatic, higher-order cognitive process which depends on cognitive resources and people can only successfully negate information if they have the intention to do so. Interestingly there are some recent studies which showed that information can be processed at least to a certain degree automatically. But so far there have been no studies which could explain the inconsistent evidence concerning the automaticity of the falsification process or provided an approach to shed light on the underlying mechanisms. In the present research it was assumed that labeling an information as false would lead to a change of the encoding strategy of that information and that this change of encoding strategy leads to an automatic activation of counter valence to the valence of the given information. That means that false positive information should be evaluated less positive than true positive information and false negative information should be evaluated less negative than true negative information. This prediction is based on the assumption of an underlying mechanism which is called the antonym heuristic of valence. The application of this heuristic in a case of falsification means that instead of considering all possibilities which could be true if a given information is labeled as false, people use the exact opposite (the antonym) of the given information and consider this to be the true information. Four studies were conducted to find evidence for the predicted effects. Study 1 showed that the activation of counter valence influenced the transfer of valence in an Evaluative Conditioning paradigm. Additionally, activated counter valence led to a facilitation effect in a counter intuitive categorization task (Study 2). The announcement of information as false influenced in Study 3 and 4 the processing of valenced primes in an implicit measure. Taken together these results were interpreted as evidence for the existence of an antonym heuristic of valence.


Weil, R. (2011). Die Antonymie-Heuristik: Automatische Falsifikation Valenter Information. (Dissertation). University of Trier. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Dissertation
Deposit Date Jan 22, 2020
Public URL
Publisher URL
Award Date 2011