A Double Dissociation between Conscious and Non-conscious Priming of Responses and Affect: Evidence for a Contribution of Misattributions to the Priming of Affect

Autor(en): Goller, Florian 
Khalid, Shah 
Ansorge, Ulrich 
Stichwörter: ACTIVATION; ATTENTION; AWARENESS; COGNITION; CONFLICT; flanker task; masking; misattributions of affect; non-conscious processing; Psychology; Psychology, Multidisciplinary; TESTS
Erscheinungsdatum: 2017
Volumen: 8
Studies have demonstrated conscious and non-conscious priming of responses and of affect. Concerning response priming, presenting a target-related (congruent) distractor prior to a target typically facilitates target responses. This facilitation the response priming effect is observed in comparison to a less related (incongruent) distractor. An incongruent distractor would interfere with the required response to the target. This response-priming effect is found with both conscious distracters, of which participants are aware, and non-conscious distracters, of which participants are not aware. In partly related research, distracters have also yielded affective priming effects on the evaluations of task-unrelated neutral symbols that followed the target: In comparison to the congruent condition, participants evaluated a neutral symbol presented after an incongruent distractor-target sequence as more negative. This affective priming effect was sometimes ascribed to the participants' misattributions of distractor-target conflict to the unrelated neutral symbols. Here, we set out to test this possibility. If the misattribution explanation of affective priming holds true, affective priming would be stronger with non-conscious than with conscious distractors: Mostly the non-conscious distractors would mask distractor-target conflict as the true affect-origin and, therefore, invite participants' misattribution of the primed affect to the neutral symbol in temporal vicinity. In contrast, only with conscious distractors, participants would be aware of distractor-target conflict as the true affect-origin and should, therefore, be better able to attribute their affective responses to the distractor-target relationship itself. In three experiments, we confirmed this prediction of a stronger affective priming effect in non-conscious than conscious distractor conditions, while at the same time showing conscious response-priming effects to even exceed non-conscious response-priming effects. Together, these results amount to a double dissociation between affective priming, being stronger with unconscious distracters, and response priming, being stronger with conscious distractors. This double dissociation supports the misattribution explanation and makes clear that the amount of distractor-elicited response conflict alone does not account for the amount of affective priming. Moreover, the participants' unawareness of the distractors is critical for the amount of affective priming of neutral symbols in temporal vicinity.
ISSN: 16641078
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00453

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