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Eur J Soc Psychol. 2006;36(2):147-168.

What have we been priming all these years? On the development, mechanisms, and ecology of nonconscious social behavior.

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  • 1Yale University, USA.


Priming or nonconscious activation of social knowledge structures has produced a plethora of rather amazing findings over the past 25 years: priming a single social concept such as aggressive can have multiple effects across a wide array of psychological systems, such as perception, motivation, behavior, and evaluation. But we may have reached childhood's end, so to speak, and need now to move on to research questions such as how these multiple effects of single primes occur (the generation problem); next, how these multiple simultaneous priming influences in the environment get distilled into nonconscious social action that has to happen serially, in real time (the reduction problem). It is suggested that models of complex conceptual structures (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), language use in real-life conversational settings (Clark, 1996), and speech production (Dell, 1986) might hold the key for solving these two important 'second-generation' research problems.

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