Sandwich Priming

A Method for Overcoming the Limitations of Masked Priming by Reducing Lexical Competitor Effects

Stephen J. Lupker*, Colin J. Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)


An orthographically similar masked nonword prime facilitates responding in a lexical decision task (Forster & Davis, 1984). Recently, this masked priming paradigm has been used to evaluate models of orthographic coding-models that attempt to quantify prime-target similarity. One general finding is that priming effects often do not occur when prime-target similarity is moderate, a result that the authors interpret as being due to uncontrolled effects of lexical inhibition. In the present research, a new version of the masked priming paradigm, sandwich priming, was introduced in an effort to minimize the impact of lexical inhibition. Masked sandwich priming involves briefly presenting the target itself prior to the presentation of each prime. Results indicate that the new paradigm was successful. The predicted priming effects were observed for Guerrera and Forster's (2008) T-All primes (e.g., avacitno-VACATION) and for primes differing from their targets at 3 letter positions (e.g., coshure-CAPTURE)-effects that are not found with the conventional masked priming paradigm. In addition to demonstrating the usefulness of the sandwich priming technique, these results also support the assumption that inhibitory processes play an important role in lexical processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-639
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • lexical competition
  • masked priming
  • orthographic coding
  • sandwich priming

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