Stereoscopic Semantic Activation Reveals Unconscious Influence on Word Stem Completion

Cantu, L. E. & Scharff, L. V. (November, 2006). Stereoscopic Semantic Activation Reveals Unconscious Influence on Word Stem Completion. Abstracts of the Psychonomic Society, 11,56.

Abstract: Conscious and unconscious systems were manipulated in order to examine their interacting influences on human choice. Using stereoscopic settings, a modification of Jacobyís (1991) word-stem completion task was constructed where pairs of target words (instead of a single word) were stereoscopically presented, one to each eye, below the threshold of conscious perception. Target pairs had either neutral or emotionally-charged valence, and were either identical words (non-dichotomous), semantically and emotionally disparate words (dichotomous), or letter-string pairs. Each target pair was consciously pre-masked with either a semantically-related primer word pair, a semantically-unrelated primer word pair, or an unpronounceable letter string. Regardless of priming, non-dichotomous, emotionally-charged conditions led to significantly higher accuracy (word stem completed with the target word), supporting theories of unconscious influence on conscious human choice. However, emotionally-charged target words with consciously-presented, related primers led to the highest accuracy and fastest response times, illustrating that conscious processes also influence choice.

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