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The reduction problem of priming: an analysis of potential solutions

Nyhuis, M. (2012) The reduction problem of priming: an analysis of potential solutions.

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Abstract:More than one hundred years of research has proven the effectiveness of unconscious processes and persuasion techniques. Especially priming has been tested within different situations and demonstrated promising effects on attitude and behavior change. Now, where research showed that priming works, research should move more intensively towards discovering how it works. Thereby, this study gives more insight in potential solutions of one of the so-called “second generation questions” of priming. By trying to focus a prime exclusively on a specific target (voting), this study aims to solve the reduction problem; a single prime often affects a variety of depending variables at the same time. By testing the influence of conditioning and interaction of unconscious and conscious cues, new solutions to narrow the effect of priming were tested to increase the controllability of priming. Thereby, this research analyzed subliminal priming processes in persuasion techniques to increase voter turnout, during the primary elections in the USA. For instance, a 2x2 between-subjects design was used to combine subliminal and conscious primes. Subjects were primed with action (e.g. go, move) or inaction words (e.g. stop, relax). After that they were exposed to photos that were related to elections or sports. It was assumed that this combination could exclusively activate voting versus sports intentions, depending on the photo condition. However, because there was no main effect of the subliminal prime in this experiment, no new solutions for the reduction process could be gathered. Though the missing main effect contradicts previous findings, this study emphasizes even more the need to get more insights in the underlying principles of priming to uncover how it works.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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