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Visibility predicts priming within but not between people: A cautionary tale for studies of cognitive individual differences

Boy, Frederic and Sumner, Petroc ORCID: 2014. Visibility predicts priming within but not between people: A cautionary tale for studies of cognitive individual differences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143 (3) , pp. 1011-1025. 10.1037/a0034881

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With resurgent interest in individual differences in perception, cognition and behavioral control as early indicators of disease, endophenotypes, or a means to relate brain structure to function, behavioral tasks are increasingly being transferred from within-subject settings to between-group or correlational designs. The assumption is that where we know the mechanisms underlying within-subject effects, these effects can be used to measure individual differences in those same mechanisms. However, between-subjects variability can arise from an entirely different source from that driving within-subject effects, and here we report a clear-cut demonstration of this. We examined the debated relationship between the visibility of a masked-prime stimulus and the direction of priming it causes (positive or reversed). Such reversal of priming has been hypothesized to reflect an automatic inhibitory mechanism that controls partially activated responses and allows behavioral flexibility. Within subjects, we found an unambiguous systematic transition from reversed priming to positive priming as prime visibility increased, replicated 7 times, and using different stimulus manipulations. However, across individuals there was never a relationship between prime discrimination ability and priming. Specifically, these data resolve the controversial debate on visibility and reversed priming, indicating that they arise from independent processes relying on partially shared stimulus signals. More generally, they stand as an exemplar case in which variance between individuals arises from a different source from that produced by stimulus manipulations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Additional Information: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 0096-3445
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 25 July 2013
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 14:20

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