Limited transfer of subliminal response priming to novel stimulus orientations and identities

Consciousness and Cognition 17 (3):657-671 (2008)
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Abstract

Recently, priming effects of unconscious stimuli that were never presented as targets have been taken as evidence for the processing of the stimuli’s semantic categories. The present study explored the necessary conditions for a transfer of priming to novel primes. Stimuli were digits and letters which were presented in various viewer-related orientations . The transfer of priming to novel stimulus orientations and identities was remarkably limited: in Experiment 1, in which all conscious targets stood upright, no transfer to unconscious primes in a non-target orientation was found. Experiment 2, in which primes were presented without masks, ruled out the possibility that primes were presented too short to allow congruency effects. In Experiments 3 and 4, in which all targets were presented upside down, priming transferred to upright stimuli with target identities but neither to horizontal stimuli nor to stimuli with novel identities. We suggest that whether a transfer of priming to unpracticed stimuli occurs or not depends on observers’ expectations of specific stimulus exemplars

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