Priming effects in semantic memory retrieval processes

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Abstract

Six experiments employing a total of 246 undergraduate Ss studied the effects of semantic (Sem), orthographic (O), and unrelated (U) primes on word retrieval. In Exp I, correct word retrieval probabilities (from definitions) were poorest after Sem, best after O, and intermediate after U primes. A parallel result was found in Exp II, using retrieval latencies: Correct words were retrieved slowest after Sem, fastest after O, and at an intermediate speed after U primes. Exp III demonstrated that this effect was not due simply to differences in the nonmatch decision preceding the correct word search. Increasing the number of Sem primes increased response latencies (Exp IV); both Sem and U primes caused increased search and retrieval times relative to a no-prime control in Exp V; and the effect was replicated using object rather than definition stimuli in Exp VI. It is suggested that Sem primes inhibit locating items within categories, whereas U primes inhibit locating the appropriate category. The discrepancy between the present outcome and the previous finding of Sem prime retrieval facilitation is discussed. (37 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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