Strategy Effects Counteract Distractor Inhibition: Negative Priming With Constantly Absent Probe Distractors

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It is an accepted, albeit puzzling finding that negative priming (NP) hinges on the presence of distractors in probe displays. In three experiments without probe distractors, the authors yielded evidence that response-biasing processes based on the contingency between prime and probe displays may have caused this finding. It is argued that it is of help in standard NP experiments to process the distractor in the prime display in order to prepare the response to the probe target. When this contingency was removed (Experiments 2 and 3), NP was reliably observed without probe distractors, whereas no NP emerged if the design contained the typical contingency (Experiment 1). For this reason, the data suggest that the absence of NP, which is usually observed under these conditions, may be due to a contingency-based component.

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