Priming

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Temasek Polytechnic
Temasek Humanities & Social Sciences School
Diploma in Psychology Studies

Perception & Cognition (GPS 2002)
Subject Assignment 1

Name: Jovan Leung Jing Ming

Admission Number: 1103884A

Tutorial Group: TG1A

Tutor: Dr. Tan Wah Pheow

Declaration of original work:
I declare that the following work is my own original work. I have not plagiarised information and have not tried to pass off other people’s ideas and findings as my own. Wherever possible, I have tried to acknowledge works that I have referred to (through the bibliography)

______________________ ______________________ Signature Date

Priming is the incidental activation of knowledge structures, such as trait concepts and stereotypes, by the current situational context, (Bargh et. al, 1996). For example, if one is given a list of words that includes the word ‘table’ and later is asked to complete a word starting with ‘tab’, the probability that the individual will answer ‘table’ is higher than if he/she wasn’t primed.

Priming affects implicit memory – a type of memory in which previous experiences aid the individual in performing a task without he/she being conscious of the experiences.

Bargh and Chartrand (2000) referred to three priming research techniques: conceptual priming, mindset priming, and sequential priming. In conceptual priming, the activation of mental representations in one context is used to exert a passive, unintended, and non-aware influence in subsequent, unrelated contexts. In mindset priming manipulations, the participant is actively engaged in a goal-directed type of thought in one context, to show that this mindset is more likely to operate later in an unrelated context. Sequential priming techniques test for chronic connections between two representations, across which activation automatically spreads. It is used to study the associative structure of the mind rather than to examine the residual effects of recent experience.

What all these three types of priming research techniques have in common is that they assess the resulting effects of a person’s understanding upon the world, which leaves the primed representation active for an amount of time right after. In the time in which it remains active, a passive effect is exerted on the individual. The passive effect is not one that the individual is consciously aware of, and hence unlikely to control.

In this paper, I would be focusing on conceptual priming. In conceptual priming, manipulations that activate the internal, mental representation of interest are used in the first task, in a way that does not tip the participant to make relation between the event of activation and the after effects, or even use that representation in unrelated contexts. Once a concept is activated, other concepts associated with it, available in memory, are activated through spreading activation (Neely, 1977) – the activity that spreads out along any link that is connected to an activated node. The results of this spread of activation is that the additional concepts that receive this activation become “primed”, therefore being more easily accessible.

Under the technique of conceptual priming, two different forms of practice exist, Supraliminal Priming and Subliminal Priming. Supraliminal Priming is executed by exposing the participant to priming stimuli on the level of conscious awareness. The individual is fully aware of the stimuli, but is not aware of the underlying pattern that serves to prime the construct. One very frequently used assessment is the “Scrambled Sentence Test”, first devised by Costin(1969) as a clinical projective test, but was adopted by Srull & Wyer (1979) in their trait construct priming research. In the assessment of Supraliminal...
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