Steve Joordens and Suzanna Becker

Semantic priming appears to reflect different mechanisms than those underlying other forms of priming because, unlike other forms of priming, semantic priming is reduced to non-significant levels if as few as one or two items are presented between a related prime and target. Despite this, Becker, Moscovitch and Behrmann (1995) recently described a general theory of priming that predicts long-term priming effects for semantic relatedness in addition to other forms of relatedness. This prediction is reconciled with previous failures to observe long-term semantic priming based on two claims; 1) that previously used "semantically" related pairs share few semantic features, and 2) that the tasks typically used to study priming, lexical decision and naming, are relatively insensitive to semantic influences. The present experiments provide further support for these claims by demonstrating long-term semantic priming on the lexical-decision task when synonyms are used as prime-target pairs and when the task is modified in a way that increases semantic involvement. However, the findings also suggest that in addition to the mechanism advocated by Becker et al., a second mechanism appears necessary to provide a complete account of semantic priming effects.

This paper has been submitted to JEP:LM&C. If you would like a copy, please E-mail Steve Joordens. Back to Sue Becker's home page