Behavioral priming paradigm needs update

January 18, 2012

Behavioral priming, in which behavior is changed by introducing subconscious influences, is a well-established phenomenon, but a new study shows that the cause may be different than what was previously assumed, and that the experimenter's expectations are also crucial for the priming effect to be seen. The results are reported in the Jan. 18 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.

The study, led by Stéphane Doyen of the University of Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, aimed to replicate a seminal behavioral priming study from 1996. In this original study, the authors tested whether subconsciously priming participants to think about age could make them walk more slowly. The participants thought they were volunteering for a word game, in which they had to figure out which word didn't belong, but the actual measure was how fast they left the lab.

The researchers found that when the words that didn't belong were related to being old, the participants walked more slowly after playing the game.

In the new study, however, the experimenters found that the priming effect was only seen when the experimenters' expectations of participant behavior were manipulated as well. The authors emphasize that these results are not simply the results of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but instead appear to reflect environmental cues, such as the experimenter's behavior, which act together with the initial priming from the word game to affect the participants' behavior.
-end-
Citation: Doyen S, Klein O, Pichon C-L, Cleeremans A (2012) Behavioral Priming: It's all in the Mind, but hose Mind? PLoS ONE 7(1): e29081. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029081

Financial Disclosure: This work was supported by the Wienner-Anspach Fondation, the National Fund for Scientific Research (F.N.R.S. - F. R.S.) (Belgium), and by an institutional grant from the Universite´ Libre de Bruxelles to Axel Cleeremans by Concerted Research Action 06/11-342 titled ''Culturally Modified Or- ganisms: What It Means to Be Human in the Age of Culture,'' financed by the Ministe`re de la Communaute´ Franc¸aise - Direction Ge´ne´ rale l'Enseignement non obligatoire et de la Recherche scientifique (Belgium). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: I have read the journal's policy and have the following conflicts: Behavioral priming has always been a controversial topic in social cognition. This paper highlights a more nuanced view of this topic, especially about its non-conscious nature, that might not please those in favor of a strict perspective. This does not alter our adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

Disclaimer: This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLoS ONE. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.

About PLoS ONEPLoS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLoS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.

All works published in PLoS ONE are Open Access. Everything is immediately available--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases and otherwise use--without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authors and source are properly attributed. For more information about PLoS ONE relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and our embargo policy, see the everyONE blog at http://everyone.plos.org/media.

PLOS

Related Behavior Articles from Brightsurf:

Variety in the migratory behavior of blackcaps
The birds have variable migration strategies.

Fishing for a theory of emergent behavior
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba quantified the collective action of small schools of fish using information theory.

How synaptic changes translate to behavior changes
Learning changes behavior by altering many connections between brain cells in a variety of ways all at the same time, according to a study of sea slugs recently published in JNeurosci.

I won't have what he's having: The brain and socially motivated behavior
Monkeys devalue rewards when they anticipate that another monkey will get them instead.

Unlocking animal behavior through motion
Using physics to study different types of animal motion, such as burrowing worms or flying flocks, can reveal how animals behave in different settings.

AI to help monitor behavior
Algorithms based on artificial intelligence do better at supporting educational and clinical decision-making, according to a new study.

Increasing opportunities for sustainable behavior
To mitigate climate change and safeguard ecosystems, we need to make drastic changes in our consumption and transport behaviors.

Predicting a protein's behavior from its appearance
Researchers at EPFL have developed a new way to predict a protein's interactions with other proteins and biomolecules, and its biochemical activity, merely by observing its surface.

Spirituality affects the behavior of mortgagers
According to Olga Miroshnichenko, a Sc.D in Economics, and a Professor at the Department of Economics and Finance, Tyumen State University, morals affect the thinking of mortgage payers and help them avoid past due payments.

Asking if behavior can be changed on climate crisis
One of the more complex problems facing social psychologists today is whether any intervention can move people to change their behavior about climate change and protecting the environment for the sake of future generations.

Read More: Behavior News and Behavior Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.