Selective Attention: A Reevaluation of the Implications of Negative Priming

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The notion that inhibitory processes play a critical role in selective attention has gained wide support. Much of this support derives from studies of negative priming. The authors note that the attribution of negative priming to an inhibitory mechanism of attention draws its support from a common assumption underlying priming procedures, together with the procedure that has been used to measure negative priming. The results from a series of experiments demonstrate that selection between 2 competing prime items is not required to observe negative priming. This result is demonstrated across several experiments in which participants named 1 of 2 items in a second display following presentation of a single-item prime. The implications of these results for existing theories of negative priming are discussed, and a theoretical framework for interpreting negative priming and several related phenomena is forwarded.

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