Semantic priming effects from single words in a lexical decision task
ABSTRACT The present research examines the semantic priming effects of a centrally presented single prime word to which participants were instructed to either “attend and remember” or “ignore”. The prime word was followed by a central probe target on which the participants made a lexical decision task. The main variables manipulated across experiments were prime duration (50 or 100 ms), the presence or absence of a mask following the prime, and the presence (or absence) and type of distractor stimulus (random set of consonants or pseudowords) on the probe display. There was a consistent interaction between the instructions and the semantic priming effects. Relative to the “attend and remember” instruction, an “ignore” instruction produced reduced positive priming from single primes presented for 100 ms, irrespective of the presence or absence of a prime mask, and regardless of whether the probe target was presented with or without distractors. Additionally, reliable negative priming was found from ignored primes presented for briefer durations (50 ms) and immediately followed by a mask. Methodological and theoretical implications of the present findings for the extant negative priming literature are discussed.