Associative and Categorical Priming in Recognition of Individuals

Abstract

This paper reports an experiment which explores how our semantic representations of individual objects are organized and accessed in memory and how these representations are inter-linked with those of other individuals. A priming experiment was conducted to investigate the relations between singular representations of famous individuals from four categories (person, building, artwork and product), contrasting associative and categorical priming effects in visual recognition. The experiment adopted a familiarity decision task to compare priming by associates (e.g. Michelle Obama - Barack Obama) and priming by non-associates from the same semantic category (e.g. Angelina Jolie - Johnny Depp) against an unrelated prime condition. The results of the experiment showed that there was a substantial priming effect from associates but no reliable priming from non-associates of the same semantic category. We propose that singular representations of unique individuals are more strongly inter-connected by networks of horizontal associative links rather than by categories.


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