Subliminal priming with nearly perfect performance in the prime-classification task

Matthew Finkbeiner*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    The subliminal priming paradigm is widely used by cognitive scientists, and claims of subliminal perception are common nowadays. Nevertheless, there are still those who remain skeptical. In a recent critique of subliminal priming, Pratte and Rouder (Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71, 1276-1283, 2009) suggested that previous claims of subliminal priming may have been due to a failure to control the task difficulty between the experiment proper and the prime-classification task. Essentially, because the prime-classification task is more difficult than the experiment proper, the prime-classification task results may underrepresent the subjects' true ability to perceive the prime stimuli. To address this possibility, prime words were here presented in color. In the experiment proper, priming was observed. In the prime-classification task, subjects reported the color of the primes very accurately, indicating almost perfect control of task difficulty, but they could not identify the primes. Thus, I conclude that controlling for task difficulty does not eliminate subliminal priming.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1255-1265
    Number of pages11
    JournalAttention, Perception and Psychophysics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011


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