Competition between automatic and controlled processes

Consciousness and Cognition 12 (2):309-319 (2003)
We investigated the competition between automatic and controlled processes in a word stem completion task. Prime-display duration and the prime-target interval were manipulated. On each trial a masked prime was displayed briefly, followed either immediately or after a delay by a word stem. The subjects were required to complete each stem with the first word that came to mind, to report any prime they could identify, and not to give as completion any identified prime. By the assumption that automatic processes require less stimulus input and can be completed faster than consciously controlled processes we expected a stronger performance contribution from automatic processes with the shorter prime-display durations and in the immediate stems condition. The results confirmed this expectation. The findings highlight that consciously controlled processes require more time to run their course than unconscious automatic processes
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DOI 10.1016/S1053-8100(02)00069-7
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