„Die höchste Philosophie des Naturforschers besteht eben darin, eine unvollendete Weltanschauung zu ertragen und einer scheinbar abgeschlossenen, aber unzureichenden vorzuziehen”
(Ernst MACH, 1838-1916, österreichischer Physiker, Philosoph und Wissenschaftstheoretiker)

Automatic Evaluation

My research is concerned with how people evaluate and activate preferences in memory. I have been involved in a number of studies that investigated (a) the automaticity of evaluations, (b) how valence and arousal interact in evaluative processing, (c) and the processes operating in indirect attitude measures (e.g., affective priming). I also developed a new variant of the ‘implicit association task’ that can be used to infer attitudes with the use of a single categorization task (the so-called IAT-GOAL).

Key articles:

  • Eder, A. B., Leuthold, H., Rothermund, K., & Schweinberger, S. R. (2012). Automatic response activation in sequential affective priming: An ERP study. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 7, 436-445.
  • Eder, A. B., Rothermund, K., & De Houwer, J. (2013). Affective compatibility between stimuli and response goals: A primer for a new implicit measure of attitudes. PLoS ONE, 8, e79210.

Approach-Avoidance Motivation

Affective stimuli evoke action tendencies to approach and avoid. In several experiments, I have investigated the processes that underlie an emotional priming of motor behavior like pushing and pulling lever-movements. In these studies, I consistently observed that emotional stimuli interact with movement goals rather than with motor components. On the basis of this research, I have repeatedly emphasized the cognitive flexibility of approach-avoidance behavior.

Key articles:

  • Eder, A. B., & Rothermund, K. (2008). When do motor behaviors (mis)match affective stimuli? An evaluative coding view of approach and avoidance reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137, 262-281.
  • Eder, A. B., & Hommel, B. (2013). Anticipatory control of approach and avoidance behavior: An ideomotor approach. Emotion Review, 5 275-279.

Emotional Action Control

I have developed a model of emotional action control that integrates classic instrumental learning theory with modern ideomotor theory. Central to this model is the assumption of a bi-directional association between action and emotional outcomes that triggers actions in an ideomotor fashion. I have received two research grants from the German Science Foundation (DFG) for a test of this model.

Key articles:

  • Eder, A. B., & Rothermund, K. (2013). Emotional action: An ideomotor model. In C. Mohiyeddini, M. Eysenck & S. Bauer (Eds.), Handbook of psychology of emotions: Recent theoretical perspectives and novel empirical findings, Volume 1. (pp. 11-38). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
  • Eder, A. B., Rothermund, K., De Houwer, J., & Hommel, B. (2015). Directive and incentive functions of affective action consequences: An ideomotor approach. Psychological Research, 79, 630-649.

Emotion Regulation

I have shown that people can influence emotional response tendencies with strategic preparations of antagonistic (or synergetic) responses to emotional cues. This work has some intriguing implications in respect to how people can override unwanted response tendencies more effectively.

Key articles:

  • Eder, A. B., Rothermund, K., & Proctor, R. W. (2010). The prepared emotional reflex: Intentional preparation of automatic approach and avoidance tendencies as a means to regulate emotional responding. Emotion, 10, 593-598.
  • Eder, A. B. (2011). Control of impulsive emotional behavior through implementation intentions. Cognition and Emotion, 25, 478-489.

Conflict Management

David Dignath and I conducted several studies on conflict management and how conflicts affect subsequent behavioral choices. One study examined an aversive experience of response conflict and whether this experiences triggers avoidance of the source of the conflict or adjustment to conflict. Another study examined a conflict resolution in continuous movement trajectories, showing that motivational conflicts leak into the action-execution stage.

Key article:

  • Dignath, D., Kiesel, A., & Eder, A. B. (in press). Flexible conflict management: Conflict avoidance and conflict adjustment in reactive cognitive control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.
  • Dignath, D., Pfister, R., Eder, A. B., Kiesel, A., & Kunde, W. (2014). Something in the way she moves: Movement trajectories reveal dynamics of self-control. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21, 809-816.

Action-Effect Learning

I am involved as a researcher in several studies on action-effect learning. One study investigated an automatic integration of temporal information about action-effect delays into action representations. Another set of experiments examined an influence of instructions on the acquisition of action effects.

Key article:

  • Dignath, D., Pfister, R., Eder, A. B., Kiesel, A., & Kunde, W. (2014). Representing the hyphen in action-effect associations: Automatic acquisition and bi-directional retrieval of action-effect intervals. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40, 1701-1712.
  • Eder, A. B., & Dignath, D. (in press). Influence of verbal instructions on effect-based action control. Psychological Research.


Together with Klaus Fiedler (U Heidelberg), I investigated pseudocontingency inferences in an illusory correlation paradigm. Our experiments show that skewed baserates (minority and negative behaviors are rare) are sufficient for biases against minorities (i.e., the minority group is evaluated more negatively than a majority group).

Key article:

  • Eder, A. B., Fiedler, K., & Hamm-Eder, S. (2011). Illusory correlations revisited: The role of pseudocontingencies and working memory capacity. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 517-532.