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Int J Psychophysiol. 2011 Jun;80(3):210-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2011.03.009. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Masked first name priming increases effort-related cardiovascular reactivity.

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Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro NC 27402-6170, USA.


Recent research on motivational intensity has shown that explicit manipulations of self-focused attention (e.g., mirrors and video cameras) increase effort-related cardiovascular responses during active coping. An experiment examined whether masked first name priming, an implicit manipulation of self-focused attention, had similar effects. Participants (n=52 young adults) performed a self-paced cognitive task, in which they were told to get as many trials correct as possible within 5min. During the task, the participant's first name was primed for 0%, 33%, 67%, or 100% of the trials. First name priming, regardless of its frequency, significantly increased cardiovascular reactivity, particularly systolic blood pressure (SBP) reactivity. Furthermore, the priming manipulation interacted with individual differences in trait self-focus: trait self-focus predicted higher SBP reactivity in the 0% condition, but first name priming eliminated the effects of individual differences. Implications for self-awareness research and for the emerging interest in priming effects on effort are considered.

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