Using the letter decision task to examine semantic priming

Abstract

The present research investigates semantic priming with an adapted version of the word fragment completion task. The letter decision task, as we will call it, holds some advantages over the traditionally used lexical decision task in that it eliminates retrospective semantic matching effects, it avoids the need to construct pseudowords, it is more engaging for participants and it enhances semantic processing, which in turn allows for a more fine-grained investigation of semantic activation. The letter decision task requires participants to complete words, from which one letter was omitted like lett_ce (lettuce), as fast as possible. The study found that words are completed faster when the preceding trial comprised a semantically related fragment like tom_to (tomato) than when it comprised an unrelated fragment like guit_r (guitar). Furthermore, the study provides insight in the nature of the priming effect. It demonstrates that priming effects are larger for strongly associated prime-target pairs.


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