What Is Priming?

Priming is a nonconscious form of human memory concerned with perceptual identification of words and objects. It refers to activating particular representations or associations in memory just before carrying out an action or task. For example, a person who sees the word "yellow" will be slightly faster to recognize the word "banana." This happens because yellow and banana are closely associated in memory. Additionally, priming can also refer to a technique in psychology used to train a person's memory in both positive and negative ways.

Recent posts on Priming

Is Multiple Choice Testing Immoral?

By Rolf Reber Ph.D. on April 15, 2016 in Critical Feeling
Should multiple choice tests be banned because students learn false facts from wrong response options?

One Source of Bad Decision-Making

By Amie M. Gordon PhD on March 31, 2016 in Between You and Me
Heuristics are mental shortcuts that we use to help quickly make judgments and decisions. But there are times when these mental shortcuts lead to poor choices.

When to Go and When to Stay?

When should we go with the tried and true, and when should we reach out for something new?

Are Most Published Social Psychology Findings False?

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on February 26, 2016 in Rabble Rouser
Social psychology is riddled with failures to replicate and, possibly, questionable research practices. How bad is it?

A Biological Function for Oral Sex?

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on February 02, 2016 in How We Do It
High blood pressure affects 10% of pregnancies in which a mother’s immune system over-reacts to the fetus. Long-term sexual priming by a specific male partner reduces the risk.

The Surprising Power of an Uncomfortable Brain

By Garth Sundem on October 27, 2015 in Brain Trust
What happens when surroundings don't match your expectations? A new series of experiments shows that this "cultural dysfluency" shocks your brain off autopilot and back into thinking.

The Effect of Unconscious Associations on Visitors’ Behavior

Our thoughts and behavior are not under our intentional control, but are instead widely influenced by environmental factors. These automatic processes have a fundamental implication to our behavior in general as to our online behavior.

Can Subliminal Messages Create Feelings of Love and Lust?

Can a sexy picture in the background or a well-chosen romantic word, trigger automatic feelings of love and desire? Could the right situation or association make you seem more attractive, sexy, or alluring to a potential lover? See what the research has to say here...

How I'm Using Science to Help My Daughter Keep Liking Math

By Garth Sundem on April 24, 2015 in Brain Candy
My 5-year-old daughter loves math and I'm terrified this fall when she starts kindergarten, she could lose that love.

Hillary Clinton's Social Media Challenge

Obama was the classic Underdog archetype. Social media wasn’t his communications vehicle, it was part of his story. Don’t ask if Hillary Clinton will have a social media advantage because Obama did or if the Republicans will ever get it right. Ask if Hillary can adapt her archetype to social.

Shaming Women: Sex, Toys, and Cosmetic Surgery

Stigmatizing women continues. But let us be grateful to women's advocates -- those who expose the finger pointers.

Why Does Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Work?

By Warren W Tryon Ph.D. on March 10, 2015 in The Missing Link
What mechanism explains how mindfulness-based treatments work?

The Top 9 Reasons I Hate Anxiety

Here are the top 9 reasons I hate anxiety--and you should too!

Our Top-Down Brains and How They Help Us Adapt to the World

What you see is often not a matter of the stimuli that are in front of you, but a matter of your expectations. The “affair of the dress,” and whether you see it as white-gold or blue-black is just another example of our top-down brains.

Tossing the Soap

When you are playing at Level III you are at the top of your game – in fact you expand the game beyond the obvious – stretching your ‘toss’ to reach farther with others – opening the space for better tosses and better adjustments as you co-create for mutual success.

Why We Remember Things the Way We Want to Remember Them

When public figures erroneously report on events that didn’t actually happen in their lives, the whole world knows about it. However, false memories are a common occurrence in everyone’s day-to-day thinking. Remembering what you want to remember may be more a matter of identity than of failing memory.

Creativity and Multicultural Experiences

In a recent study, children whose parents were born in different countries were generally more creative than children whose parents were born in the same country. The mystery is why.

Surprising yet Simple Tips for Making a Love Connection

By Melissa Burkley Ph.D. on February 11, 2015 in The Social Thinker
Three simple tips for increasing your attractiveness while on a date

10 Ways to Relieve Stress in 5 Minutes or Less

The way we work is broken when scores of talented people can’t attend to their basic human needs. Until the larger systemic issues are fixed, these and other stories continue to push me to create stress-relief strategies that can actually be incorporated in your super-hectic day. Here are 10 such strategies to try when you have 5 minutes or less.

Who Uses Their Head and Who Listens to Their Heart?

Whether a person identifies with their head or their heart can say a lot about their personality. Are people in their heads really smarter than those in their hearts?

Beat the Blue Monday Blues with these Behaviour Change Clues

By Paul Dolan Ph.D. on January 19, 2015 in Happiness by Design
It’s Blue Monday today, which is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. There is likely to be a lot going around on the web about how to think yourself happy. But it is very difficult to change the way that you think. So instead, here are some tips to change the way you behave to beat the Blue Monday blues.

Why Cravings Occur

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on January 07, 2015 in Science of Choice
For addicts, the trouble begins once they decide to give up the addiction.

7 Ways You Can Help Your Partner Reach Their Goals

By Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D. on January 05, 2015 in Close Encounters
Most advice on pursuing goals focuses on what you can do to achieve your own aims. But how can you help those you love to achieve their goals? Relationship partners play an important role in helping or hindering our progress toward our goals.

Do You Use Sarcasm in E-mails?

By Daniel Voyer Ph.D. on January 02, 2015 in Perceptual Asymmetries
Do you use sarcasm in e-mails and text messages? Your messages might be as clear as mud!

How to Teach Your Children Generosity During the Holidays

By Tamar Chansky Ph.D. on December 14, 2014 in Worry Wise
Self-centeredness and generosity are not mutually exclusive; they are more like next-door neighbors. In other words, your child has the capacity for both. It may drive us crazy to hear the gimmes, but if we want our kids to learn generosity, we’ll be better served to pause, exhale and teach our kids to feel good about giving.

Bankers More Likely to Lie

By Ken Eisold Ph.D. on December 09, 2014 in Hidden Motives
When bankers are reminded they are bankers, a new study has found, they are more likely to lie.

Bonding (Physically) With Same-Sex Individuals

By Jesse Marczyk Ph.D. on November 30, 2014 in Pop Psych
A new papers suggests that homoerotic behavior functions to bond same-sex friends closer together. I remain skeptical.

What's the Best Way for You to End a Relationship?

Everyone can relate to relationship break-up strategies that failed miserably. The key to minimizing the pain is to adjust the strategy to your personality and that of your partner. It may even be possible for you to improve your relationship breakup strategy with a simple mental adjustment.

The Creative Process

In any field, whether it's psychology or physics, find the strangest thing and then explore it. – John Archibald Wheeler