The Goal-Dependent Nature of Automatic Semantic Priming

AbstractDespite the fact that priming is one of the most studied phenomena in cognitive psychology, many questions remain about exactly when, why and under what task conditions we ought to observe priming in the lab, and what types of relationships between words or concepts reliably lead to priming. This project contrasted two priming experiments where the primary manipulation was the decision the subjects were making about words (as well as manipulating other factors, like relatedness proportion, known to affect priming). We found evidence that: 1) automatic priming for semantically related words does happen under some conditions, but 2) semantic priming, and whether it happens independent of association, is dependent on the task in which participants are engaged. These results provide evidence for the context sensitive nature of the activation of semantic memory. Keywords: Semantic memory; Semantic Priming; Associative Priming; Goals; Explicit Awareness

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