Semantic Priming

Perspectives from Memory and Word Recognition

By Timothy P. McNamara

© 2005 – Psychology Press

210 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
New in Paperback: 9780415651677
pub: 2012-08-16
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9781841690797
pub: 2005-07-28
US Dollars$60.00

About the Book

Semantic priming has been a focus of research in the cognitive sciences for more than thirty years and is commonly used as a tool for investigating other aspects of perception and cognition, such as word recognition, language comprehension, and knowledge representations. Semantic Priming: Perspectives from Memory and Word Recognition examines empirical and theoretical advancements in the understanding of semantic priming, providing a succinct, in-depth review of this important phenomenon, framed in terms of models of memory and models of word recognition.

The first section examines models of semantic priming, including spreading activation models, the verification model, compound-cue models, distributed network models, and multistage activation models (e.g. interactive-activation model).

The second section examines issues and findings that have played an especially important role in testing models of priming and includes chapters on the following topics: methodological issues (e.g. counterbalancing of materials, choice of priming baselines); automatic vs. strategic priming; associative vs. “pure” semantic priming; mediated priming; long-term semantic priming; backward priming; unconscious priming; the prime-task effect; list context effects; effects of word frequency, stimulus quality, and stimulus repetition; and the cognitive neuroscience of semantic priming.

The book closes with a summary and a discussion of promising new research directions.

The volume will be of interest to a wide range of researchers and students in the cognitive sciences and neurosciences.


'Semantic priming is an important phenomenon of cognition and has engendered a huge research literature, a literature that is confusing, conflicting, and defiant of easy classification even to the expert. McNamara’s new book is a welcome addition to the field that clarifies and enlightens.' - Richard M. Schiffrin, Indiana University

'This is an outstanding book that provides a much-needed roadmap for both researchers and students into the specific details and broader implications of semantic priming research. The treatment of alternative theories is unparalleled in its sophistication, and the coverage of methodological issues offers invaluable guidance to those entering the field. McNamara has done a masterful job of distilling a rich, multifaceted domain into its core issues, findings and perspectives. The result is like a fine espresso – strong, balanced, and no serious work should be attempted without it.' - David Plaut, Carnegie Mellon University

'An Easily Accessible volume on semantic priming research that can potentially benefit researchers, graduate students, and upper division undergraduates' - Christopher Koch, in PsycCRITIQUES, August 2006

Table of Contents

Part 1: Introduction. What Is Semantic Priming and Why Should Anyone Care? Part 2: Models. Spreading Activation Models. Becker's Verification Model. Compound-cue Models. Distributed Network Models. The Interactive-activation Model. Other Models. Part 3: Major Issues and Findings. Baselines. Automatic Versus Strategic Priming. Associative Versus 'Pure' Semantic Priming. Mediated Versus Direct Priming. Effects of Lag. Forward Versus Backward Priming. Subliminal Priming. Prime-task Effect. List Context Effects. Word Frequency, Stimulus Quality, and Relatedness Proportion. Semantic Priming and N400. Part 4: Summary and Conclusions. What We Have Learned about Semantic Priming

About the Series

Essays in Cognitive Psychology

Essays in Cognitive Psychology is designed to meet the need for rapid publication of brief volumes in cognitive psychology.

Primary topics include perception, movement and action, attention, memory, mental representation, language and problem solving.

Furthermore, the series seeks to define cognitive psychology in its broadest sense, encompassing all topics either informed by, or informing, the study of mental processes. As such, it covers a wide range of subjects including computational approaches to cognition, cognitive neuroscience, social cognition, and cognitive development, as well as areas more traditionally defined as cognitive psychology.

Each volume in the series makes a conceptual contribution to the topic by reviewing and synthesizing the existing research literature, by advancing theory in the area, or by some combination of these missions.

The principal aim is that authors provide an overview of their own highly successful research program in an area.

Volumes also include an assessment of current knowledge and identification of possible future trends in research.

Each book is a self-contained unit supplying the advanced reader with a well-structured review of the work described and evaluated.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology