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

Have You Been Infected by Other People's Emotions?

Are other people's emotions contagious? The powerful effect of social contagion.

How the News Media Make Monsters

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on June 26, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
The news media frequently refer to murderers in nonhuman and supernatural terms, using inflammatory words like evil, vampire, and monster.

When Emotion Meets Thinking

Can we be sad and creative too?

The Radical Notion of Returning to Handwriting

Need to remember something or learn something new? Write it by hand.

Blind Spots

Can you see your conversational blindspots? Learn three exercises to try today for a more productive meeting.

The Secret That Generates Success in Couples Therapy

By Marty Babits on May 03, 2017 in The Middle Ground
There is a secret way to approach couples therapy that can make the difference bertween getting what you need from it and failing miserably.

The Caring Effect

Great leaders identify, measure, recognize, and reward meaningful efforts and achievements. Why should managers and leaders celebrate more?

Seeking Idea Sparks

By Wilma Koutstaal Ph.D. on February 06, 2017 in Our Innovating Minds
What helps us as inspiration seekers?

How Culture Wires Our Brains

By Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D. on January 26, 2017 in Between Cultures
Cultural neuroscience research is shedding light on how culture affects our neural activity and the way we represent the self in our brains.

The Adaptive Significance of Priming

By Jesse Marczyk Ph.D. on January 22, 2017 in Pop Psych
Priming does not appear to be a byproduct of neural activation, but rather an adaptive means of improving cognitive and behavioral response times. Implications abound.

Sensory Marketing; The Smell of Cinnamon That Made Me Buy

While we like to think that we know why we make the decisions we make, we are in fact controlled by hidden biological forces more than we would like to admit.

Implicit Racial Prejudice and Explicit Discrimination

Recent media coverage has questioned the utility of research on implicit biases. This article responds to criticisms of the IAT.

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

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.