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Subliminal or not?: Comparing null-hypothesis and Bayesian methods for testing subliminal priming
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
2016 (English)In: Consciousness and Cognition, ISSN 1053-8100, E-ISSN 1090-2376, Vol. 44, 29-40 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A difficulty for reports of subliminal priming is demonstrating that participants who actually perceived the prime are not driving the priming effects. There are two conventional methods for testing this. One is to test whether a direct measure of stimulus perception is not significantly above chance on a group level. The other is to use regression to test if an indirect measure of stimulus processing is significantly above zero when the direct measure is at chance. Here we simulated samples in which we assumed that only participants who perceived the primes were primed by it. Conventional analyses applied to these samples had a very large error rate of falsely supporting subliminal priming. Calculating a Bayes factor for the samples very seldom falsely supported subliminal priming. We conclude that conventional tests are not reliable diagnostics of subliminal priming. Instead, we recommend that experimenters calculate a Bayes factor when investigating subliminal priming.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 44, 29-40 p.
Keyword [en]
subliminal priming, Bayes factor, signal detection theory, null-hypothesis significance testing
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132185DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2016.06.012PubMedID: 27351780OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-132185DiVA: diva2:950193
Available from: 2016-07-28 Created: 2016-07-28 Last updated: 2016-08-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Subliminal or not?: An appraisal of semantic processing in the near absence of visual awareness
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Subliminal or not?: An appraisal of semantic processing in the near absence of visual awareness
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Stimuli that cannot be perceived (i.e., that are subliminal) can still elicit neural responses in an observer, but can such stimuli influence behavior and higher-order cognition? Empirical evidence for such effects has periodically been accepted and rejected over the last six decades. Today, many psychologists seem to consider such effects well-established and recent studies have extended the power of subliminal processing to new limits. In this thesis, I examine whether this shift in zeitgeist is matched by a shift in evidential strength for the phenomenon.

This thesis consists of three empirical studies involving more than 250 participants, a simulation study, and a quantitative review. The conclusion based on these efforts is that several methodological, statistical, and theoretical issues remain in studies of subliminal processing. These issues mean that claimed subliminal effects might be caused by occasional or weak percepts (given the experimenters’ own definitions of perception) and that it is still unclear what evidence there is for the cognitive processing of subliminal stimuli. New data are presented suggesting that even in conditions traditionally claimed as “subliminal”, occasional or weak percepts may in fact influence cognitive processing more strongly than do the physical stimuli, possibly leading to reversed priming effects. I also summarize and provide methodological, statistical, and theoretical recommendations that could benefit future research aspiring to provide solid evidence for subliminal cognitive processing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 2016. 102 p.
Keyword
Subliminal priming, Signal detection theory, Bayesian statistics, Visual masking, Consciousness, Awareness, Unconscious processing, Semantic priming
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132211 (URN)978-91-7649-454-7 (ISBN)
External cooperation:
Public defence
2016-09-23, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2016-08-31 Created: 2016-08-01 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved

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