Priming and awareness - PhDData

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Priming and awareness

The thesis was published by Orchard, Gerald, in September 2022, University of Stirling.


Three sets of experiments were designed to test Marcel’s (1983ab) claim that backward pattern masked word primes are processed automatically and without awareness to a level of representation where the meaning of the word is identified. In the first set of experiments, Marcel’s critical SOA procedure for determining an awareness threshold was found to be unsatisfactory. There was no evidence for semantic priming effects when more trials were used to determine the critical SOA. In the second and third sets of experiments, awareness of backward pattern masked primes was determined by subject’s report of the prime. Conconscious priming effects from prior presentation of the target word in a lexical decision task, and the solution in an anagram solving task, were substantial and robust. Nonconscious semantic priming effects were small but were significant in both tasks when presentation was dichoptic. Nonconscious semantic priming effects in the anagram solving task were obtained under some conditions of binocular presentation. Priming effects are discussed with reference to word perception, reading, and theories of consciousness. One conclusion is that nonconscious automatic priming effects are “selective” and are far from being ubiquitous. This view of heterogeneous nonconscious selective priming does not support Marcel’s (1983b) claim that nonconscious processing produces homogeneous activation to the highest level in all representations connected with the stimulus event.

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