Subliminal or not?: An appraisal of semantic processing in the near absence of visual awareness
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
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.
Subliminal priming, Signal detection theory, Bayesian statistics, Visual masking, Consciousness, Awareness, Unconscious processing, Semantic priming
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject Psychology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132211ISBN: 978-91-7649-454-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-132211DiVA: diva2:951753
2016-09-23, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Dienes, Zoltan, Professor
Nilsson, Mats, ProfessorWesterlund, Joakim, Docent
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.
List of papers