Speaker: Ms. Tan Luuan Chin 

 Title: Reliability of masked repetition and semantic priming effects, and the moderating influence of individual differences

Date: Thursday 3 September, 12-1 pm

 Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Despite the robustness of the semantic priming effect (e.g., facilitated recognition for cat – DOG, compared to bat – DOG), the test-retest and internal reliability of semantic priming effects within individuals is surprisingly low (Stolz, Besner, & Carr, 2005). In contrast, repetition priming effects (e.g., facilitated recognition for dog – DOG, compared to bat – DOG) appear to be far more reliable across a range of conditions (Waechter, Stolz, & Besner, 2010). While Stolz and colleagues attribute the low reliability associated with semantic priming to uncoordinated automatic processes in semantic memory, their reliance on unmasked priming paradigms makes it unclear the extent to which reliability in priming (or the lack thereof) reflects strategic processes. The present study focuses on the test-retest and split-half reliability of the automatic mechanisms that putatively support semantic and repetition priming in a large-scale study of two hundred and forty participants. Specifically, I explore the issue of the reliability of semantic and repetition priming when primes are heavily masked and cannot be consciously processed. To my knowledge, this question has not been explored in the literature. Results showed that although group-level masked repetition and semantic priming effects were statistically significant, in line with the literature, only masked repetition, but not semantic, priming effects showed reliability. I also investigated the closely related question of how individual differences in masked repetition and semantic priming are associated with variability in vocabulary knowledge and spelling performance. Across a series of converging analyses, I found that skilled readers are associated with larger priming effects, but that this pattern holds only for masked repetition, not semantic, priming. The results of this study shed more light on the mechanisms supporting semantic and repetition priming in visual word recognition and also has important implications for the study of individual differences in priming performance. 

About the Speaker:

Ms. Tan Luuan Chin is currently a Masters student in the Department of Psychology at NUS under the supervision of Dr. Melvin Yap. 

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