“Both” say researchers Melanie Dempsey (of Ryerson University) and Andrew Mitchell (of the University of Toronto).
Their 2010 study* had three stages.

Stage 1

They exposed experimental participants to hundreds of screen images.� Among the images were images linked to two invented brands of pen.� One brand was designed to be far superior to the other.� The images included 20 positive images connected to the inferior brand, and 20 negative images linked to the superior brand.

Two Pens

Stage 2

Participants were then shown a load of adverts.� Among them were made up adverts for the two pens that were features base.� They made it clear which brand was the better.

Stage 3

Participants were split into two groups.

Group A were asked to evaluate all of the products based on the content of the adverts they saw, including those for the two pens.� They were then asked to choose which pen they would buy.

Group B were asked to assess the quality of the adverts themselves, without considering the products.� Tey were also asked which pen they would buy.

The Results

  • Group A predominantly (75%) picked the superior pen
  • Group B predominantly (70%) picked the inferior pen

My Conclusions

When we evaluate evidence objectively, we are swayed by the facts.
If, however, we do not concentrate on the evidence, subjective and emotional cues can dominate our decision.

* “The Influence of Implicit Attitudes on Choice when Consumers Are Confronted with Conflicting Attribute Information,” Melanie A. Dempsey and Andrew A. Mitchell, Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 2010, 614-625

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