Social Priming

Social Priming

Social priming has been a recent topic of discussion in the field of psychology. The majority of researchers and psychologists support the idea of priming; however, social priming is a new and controversial topic of interest. Priming, in simple terms, is when a stimulus influences one’s reaction to another stimulus. It is argued that priming can influence a person’s cognition and behavior; however, studies done on social priming suggest otherwise. Although there are many conflicting opinions, social priming is the thought that social concepts can evoke certain behavior in a person.

A journal released in 2018 was meant to discuss a study focusing on the reliability of priming effects. This journal and the study it discusses, were written and conducted by Andrew Rivers and Jeff Sherman. However, this 2018 journal released was actually a “reprint” of their original thoughts on their study’s findings. What’s the difference between the original journal and the reprint? The only real difference is that Rivers and Sherman included their own critiques for the counterarguments they received after their first publication was shared. As it turns out, Rivers and Sherman received significant backlash for their initial findings that many people disagreed with. Their study, utilized the four following tasks to conduct their research and gain knowledge on priming: Stroop Task, Lexical Decision Task (LDT), Weapons Identification Task (WIT), and Stereotype Misperception Task (SMT). Rivers and Sherman found that priming in several of these tasks reached and influenced the participants. These findings allowed Rivers and Sherman to believe that priming effects arereliable based on their research, and that part of the reason why many people have failed in trying to replicate research with similar findings is because of research design, publication bias, and statistical power. Although Rivers and Sherman support the idea that priming doesinfluence a person’s cognition and behavior, they don’t think too highly of socialpriming. They believe that there is no social aspect to priming. Furthermore, they suggest that the idea of social priming was created by social psychologists. Rivers and Sherman don’t necessarily say that these psychologists are bias, but they do find it suspicious that social priming is pretty much only studied by social psychologists.

Discoverreleased a journal review shortly after Rivers and Sherman released their revised journal. Interestingly enough, this company also wrote an article after the first edition of this journal came out just a couple years earlier. The original journal review, released in 2016, focused on the thought that Rivers and Sherman should have recognized social priming as a type of priming. The article mentioned that the reason why Rivers and Sherman’s study did not give evidence of social priming was because their experimental method was not similar to that of “typical” social priming experiments. Well, Rivers and Sherman addressed this thought in their reprint. Remember, these researchers stated that their evidence supported the idea of priming as a whole, and suggested that the reason why other studies did notsupport this topic was partly because of their research methods. So, even though Rivers and Sherman do not directly say this, they suggest that because their findings support priming generally, their methods of research are valid. Now, Discover’slatest article about the reprint recognizes that Rivers and Sherman’s criticism and instead focuses on their argument that Rivers and Sherman’s idea of social priming is completely off, and that they didn’t truly know what social priming is and where it originated from. So, Discovertraces the term back to a study done by Bargh, Chen, and Burrows in 1996. This study, known as the “elderly priming” study, found that using a social concept to prime a participant likely caused them to enactit. For example, exposing participants to rudeness likely influenced them to later act rudely towards an experimenter. The findings of this study, and several similar ones, supported the existence of social priming.

What do you think? Do you think that social priming should be recognized as a type of priming? Or do you think that there is too much contradictory information out there to be able to confidently classify this phenomenon?

 

https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/what-is-social-priming

https://psyarxiv.com/r7pd3/