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Research Article

The power of unconscious semantic processing: The effect of semantic relatedness between prime and target on subliminal priming

Authors:

Eva Van den Bussche ,

Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department of Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, BE
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Karolien Smets,

Department of Psychology, KU Leuven, BE
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Delphine Sasanguie,

Department of Psychology, KU Leuven; Subfaculty of Psychology and Educational Science, KU Leuven Kulak, BE
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Bert Reynvoet

Department of Psychology, KU Leuven; Subfaculty of Psychology and Educational Science, KU Leuven Kulak, BE
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Abstract

Recent studies have shown that subliminal priming effects can be of a semantic nature. However, the question remains how strong this kind of priming will prove to be. In the present study we investigated whether truly semantic unconscious priming only occurs for prime-target pairs that are strongly semantically related (e.g., cat-DOG) or whether priming effects can also be observed for pairs that are less semantically related (e.g., ant-DOG). A typical masked priming paradigm, with word primes and picture targets, was used and the relatedness between prime and target was manipulated. The results showed that prime-target relatedness significantly moderated the effects. A priming effect was only found for the strongly related prime-target pairs. This indicates that semantic subliminal priming requires a sufficient amount of semantic relatedness between prime and target, rendering it as sensitive to this semantic factor as supraliminal priming.
How to Cite: Van den Bussche, E. et al., (2012). The power of unconscious semantic processing: The effect of semantic relatedness between prime and target on subliminal priming. Psychologica Belgica. 52(1), pp.59–70. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb-52-1-59
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Published on 01 Apr 2012.
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