Priming-shmiming: It's about knowing when and why stimulated memory representations become active

E. Tory Higgins, Baruch Eitam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A funny thing happened along the way of researchers using priming techniques to study psychological questions. Rather than priming being just a tool to study mind-dealing with questions like the nature of and the mechanisms underlying mental representation, semantic organization and judgment-priming became the object of study. In other words, it morphed from being a stagehand to being the star of the show. People began to talk about, and currently worry about, the nature of "priming effects." We selectively review some of this history and emphasize the importance of returning to trying to understand the psychological mechanisms that underlie what priming "does." Adopting our own suggestion, we focus on accessibility and present a recent framework that links understanding of how accessibility and priming works. Further, we demonstrate how a focus on mechanism both unlocks and enables adding to a large body of knowledge; namely, research on human memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-242
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue numberSPEC. ISSUE
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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