Abstract

We know that human neurocognitive systems rapidly and implicitly evaluate emotionally charged stimuli. But what about more everyday, frequently encountered kinds of objects, such as computer desktop icons and business logos? Do we rapidly and implicitly evaluate these more prosaic visual images, attitude objects that might only engender a mild sense of liking or disliking, if at all? To address this question, we asked participants to view a set of unfamiliar commercial logos in the context of a target identification task as brain electrical responses to these objects were recorded via event-related potentials (ERPs). Following this task, participants individually identified those logos that were most liked or disliked, allowing us to then compare how ERP responses to logos varied as a function of hedonic evaluation—a procedure decoupling evaluative responses from any normative classification of the logos themselves. In Experiment 1, we found that visuocortical processing manifest a specific bias for disliked logos that emerged within the first 200 msec of stimulus onset. In Experiment 2, we replicated this effect while dissociating normative- and novelty-related influences. Taken together, our results provide direct electrophysiological evidence suggesting that we rapidly and implicitly evaluate commercial branding images at a hedonic level.

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