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

What Is Wrong With Social Psychological Science?

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on October 13, 2016 in Rabble Rouser
The dysfunctions in psychological science go way beyond replication

How Is Incivility Related to Scientific Integrity?

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on October 11, 2016 in Rabble Rouser
Psychological science is in distress. Studies fail to replicate at what some consider an alarming rate. Its statistics and methods are a mess. And its scientists behave badly.

Metaphors Help Explain Tough Topics Like Bias

By Nancy Darling Ph.D. on October 09, 2016 in Thinking About Kids
Metaphors can help us understand complex, emotionally charged topics like sexual consent and microaggressions.

The Power of Positively Priming the Therapist

By Goal Auzeen Saedi Ph.D. on September 27, 2016 in Millennial Media
We've all heard the adage that we are what we think. Turns out what your therapist thinks can go a long ways in your therapy treatment.

Persuading Others With Loving Thoughts

Can a love song increase your chances of getting a date? Can sharing loving memories with your partner make them more agreeable? Find out what the research has to say...
Lisa Cron

Brain Science for Writers

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on August 10, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
A story coach's new book applies the neuroscience of storytelling in a practical how-to guide for writers.
VIA Institute/DepositPhotos

The Best Thing to Do Before Handling a Problem

What is one easy thing you can do before walking into a difficult situation?

An Officer’s Worst Day

The police will be there for you on your worst day. Will you be there for them on theirs?

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

By Judith E. Glaser on February 22, 2015 in Conversational Intelligence
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

By Lawrence T. White Ph.D. on February 15, 2015 in Culture Conscious
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.