Priming

Priming

Christina Bermeitinger (University of Hildesheim, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0159-6.ch003
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Abstract

This chapter is about the wide variety of priming encountered in cognitive and social psychology. In cognitive psychology, the priming paradigm is mainly used to study memory phenomena or the pre-activation of concepts and motor reactions by related stimuli. In social psychology, the term priming is used for a broader range of phenomena in which an event triggers a subsequent behavior. In this chapter, some definitions of priming and the origin of the term's use in psychology are presented. Then, the chapter examines different types and variants of priming as well as their features and principal elements, using seven organizing principles. After this methodical and empirical classification, some important theories of response priming, semantic priming, affective/evaluative priming, negative priming, and macro-level priming are summarized. Last but not least, some general questions and problems in priming research are outlined and a brief outlook is given.
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Definitions And Origin

In psychology, the term priming is generally used for pre-activations or facilitations. Priming is defined, for example, as “the improvement of the processing of a stimulus as a function of a previous presentation.” (Anderson, 2001, p. 471, translation by CB) Stroebe, Jonas, and Hewstone (2003, p. 138, translation by CB) defined priming in a result-oriented fashion as well: Priming is “the finding that a pattern will be activated with higher probability if it was presented recently or if it was used in the past.” In the same vein, Major (2008, p. ii) wrote: „Priming is the benefit that an event receives when its processing has been preceded by the processing of a related or identical event.” A more extended definition, which differentiates between the phenomenon of “priming” and the method or technique of “priming” (i.e., the priming paradigm) was given by Chartrand und Jefferis (2004, p. 854):

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