Priming

By Gillian Fournier

A phenomenon, often used as an experimental technique, whereby a certain stimulus sensitizes the subject to later presentation of a similar stimulus.

Example: A subject is asked to read a list of words including the word “carpet”. When later asked to complete a word starting with the letters C-A-R, the probability that he or she will answer “carpet” is higher than for non-primed subjects.

Priming is different from explicit memory because explicit memory uses a more direct retrieval method. Priming is supposedly not located in the same place as conscious thought. Research has proven that priming can affect the process of decision making. It can also help people fill in the blanks. For instance if you overheard someone say “I just had the best red hmmmhmmm (muffled) …berries” you may be able to assume that the person just had strawberries because they are in fact, red. This information is retrieved because red and strawberry are closely related in some peoples’ minds. The type of memory retrieval is an automatic response to a situation. Therefore, it is defined as implicit.

You can see an interesting web about proming at: http://www.psywww.com/intropsych/ch06_memory/priming.html


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jul 2010