The influence of masked stimuli on response selection: evidence from a semantic categorization task

Ocampo, Brenda (2016) The influence of masked stimuli on response selection: evidence from a semantic categorization task. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 79 1: 1-8. doi:10.3758/s13414-016-1234-0

Author Ocampo, Brenda
Title The influence of masked stimuli on response selection: evidence from a semantic categorization task
Journal name Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1943-393X
Publication date 2016-11-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3758/s13414-016-1234-0
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 79
Issue 1
Start page 1
End page 8
Total pages 8
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Springer New York LLC
Language eng
Subject 3205 Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
1203 Language and Linguistics
2809 Sensory Systems
3310 Linguistics and Language
Abstract Unconscious visual stimuli can be processed by human observers and influence their behaviour. A striking example is a phenomenon known as “free-choice priming,” where masked “prime” stimuli—of which participants are unaware—modulate which of two response alternatives they are likely to choose. Recent efforts to uncover the mechanisms underlying this intriguing effect have revealed that free-choice priming can emerge even in the absence of automatized stimulus-response (S-R) associations between masked primes and specific motor responses, indicating that free choices can be influenced by a masked prime’s meaning (Ocampo, 2015). It remains unknown, however, whether masked primes bias response selections because they are implicitly classified according to task instructions, or because spreading activation occurs within the prime's semantic network. To adjudicate between these two possibilities, participants in the present experiment categorised targets as either animals or people and selected which of two response alternatives they wanted to make following presentation of a free-choice target. Crucially, while implicit classifications could proceed during processing of both animal and person masked primes, only animal primes could trigger spreading activation within their semantic network. This manipulation modulated free-choice priming; only masked animal primes influenced response selections to free-choice targets. This result indicates that an automatic spreading activation mechanism might underlie a masked prime’s ability to influence free-choice responses.
Keyword Free-choice
Masked priming
Response selection
Semantic categorization
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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School of Psychology Publications
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