Priming Psychology: How To Influence Someone’s Thoughts and Behaviors

priming psychology

So how is it useful? How can activation of associated schema be beneficial? “Being able to draw related information into memory more quickly might help people respond faster when the need arises,” says Kendra. Priming is an excellent tool to empower the mind for what it might experience or encounter soon. 

Priming may have evolved to help us make faster decisions by associating danger with certain events. But it doesn’t always help us make the best decisions,” adds Tony Robbins.

Also read: 35+ Mind Bending Facts About Human Behavior

Types Of Priming Psychology

In psychology, there are different types of priming which work in different ways and have specific effects.

Here are the different types of priming in psychology:

1. Positive and negative priming

Positive priming boosts the processing speed and memory retrieval speed. It increases the reaction time from stimulus to response. On the other hand, negative priming makes the process slower.

2. Semantic priming 

This type of priming psychology is mainly used when words or objects are associated linguistically or logically. According to author Tony Robbins, it “is a positive type that uses words that are associated logically… Those who are primed semantically can recognize one word more quickly when they hear the other.” 

3. Associative priming 

This type of priming allows us to increase the speed of processing or response time with the use of an associated word, object or act. It is based on the idea that the brain can respond to stimulus faster when associated terms are used. For instance, “cat” and “dog”. 

This is a more specific type of positive priming and is also known as “context priming.” In priming psychology, it involves the researcher choosing a first word or image that is commonly associated with the second, but not directly related,” says Robbins.

4. Repetition priming

This refers to the repeated pairing of a stimulus & response. As repetition allows us to think quicker, we will respond faster to the same stimulus exposure in a specific way every time it’s processed. Robbins says “It’s achieved when two words are continually paired together. After enough repetition, an individual will be much more likely to respond to the second word when they hear the first.”

5. Perceptual priming

This type of priming involves stimuli with similar forms. It depends on forms with similar format of stimulus and the introduction of the stimulus. According to Robbins, “Rather than two words being conceptually related, this type of priming involves using words that sound similar, such as “hand” and “band.”

6. Conceptual priming

According to priming psychology, this depends on the meaning of the stimulus, the categories and semantic tasks which strengthen the priming. Educational consultant Kendra Cherry writes “Conceptual priming involves a stimulus and response that are conceptually related.” This is used by psychologists to understand how the stimulus is associated with a subject. “Words such as ‘desk’ and ‘chair’ are likely to show priming effects because they are in the same conceptual category,” adds Kendra. 

7. Masked Priming

This refers to when the stimulus is hidden or inaccessible, yet our brain somehow manages to identify it unconsciously. Tony Robbins explains that in this type of priming “part of the first word would be obscured.” He adds “When shown the second word, the participant still recognizes it faster. The theory is that even though the stimulus is not fully visible, individuals still react to it.

Kendra Cherry writes “Even though the entire stimulus is not visible, it still evokes a response. Words in which certain letters are obscured are one example of masked priming.

Also read: 10 Most Crucial Positive Emotions To Cultivate Daily

How Can You Use Priming Psychology

Priming is widely used by psychologists as therapy to treat patients with stress, anxiety and depression. Positive priming creates positive responses and emotions in patients and can significantly help to manage mood disorders. However, priming is also used in various other aspects of life apart from mental health care.

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