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Negative priming refers to the situation in which an ignored item on an initial prime trial suffers slowed responding when it becomes the target item on a subsequent probe trial. In this experiment (and a replication), we demonstrate two ways in which stimulus consistency (matching) governs negative priming. First, negative priming for identical words occurred only when the prime distractor changed color when it became the probe target (i.e., constant cue to read the red word); negative priming disappeared when the prime distractor retained its color as the probe target (i.e., cue switches from read the red prime word to read the white probe word). Second, negative priming occurred for identical words, but not for semantically related words, whether related categorically or associatively. This pattern of results is consistent with a memory retrieval account, but not with an inhibition account of negative priming, and casts doubt on whether there is semantic negative priming for words.


Journal article


Psychon Bull Rev

Publication Date





521 - 528


Affect, Color Perception, Cues, Humans, Inhibition (Psychology), Memory, Photic Stimulation, Semantics, Vocabulary