Nice wor_ if you can get the wor_: subliminal semantic and form priming in fragment completion

Conscious Cogn. 2007 Jun;16(2):520-32. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2006.09.001. Epub 2006 Oct 12.


Two experiments investigated subliminal semantic and form priming in a word-completion task. Visual gap-words with a dominant and a subordinate solution were preceded by form-related or by semantically related words, which were briefly presented and sandwich-masked. Priming of the subordinate solution was assessed in Experiment 1, relative to a neutral condition. Both solutions were primed in Experiment 2. In the absence of conscious prime recognition, both semantic and form primes reliably increased the probability with which the primed solution was given. With our variant of fragment-completion, response priming can be ruled out as explanation. Moreover, effects were already present at first presentation, excluding an interpretation in terms of partial awareness due to massive repetition. The data demonstrate automatic activation at both form and semantic levels in the absence of conscious awareness.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Form Perception*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reaction Time
  • Reading*
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Semantics*
  • Subliminal Stimulation*