Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Craig Speelman

Abstract

This review examines the role of long- and short-term repetition priming research in the theoretical debate between episodic and abstractionist accounts of implicit memory. The empirical research and theoretical accounts of priming reviewed indicate that neither episodic or abstractionist theories alone can successfully account for the processes of long- and short-term repetition priming. The major variations between studies in experimental methods used to measure repetition priming are also examined, providing a possible explanation for contrasting results obtained within repetition priming research and a reason for why the episodic versus abstractionist debate persists. Finally, research examining the underlying mechanisms responsible for priming is also discussed, indicating that it still has not been determined whether or not long- and short-term priming rely upon the same underlying mechanism. One method proposed for providing further clarification to this issue is to examine whether fluctuations in long-term priming levels result in changes in the magnitude of short-term priming. Previous models of word recognition assume the presence of only a single underlying mechanism in repetition priming. Recent research has, however, suggested that priming may be generated by two distinct processes; namely a long-term priming component and a short-term priming component. An experiment was conducted in order to examine the relationship between long- and short-term priming in order to determine whether or not these two processes can be attributed to a single underlying process. A total of 60 people (45 females, 15 males) participated in a computer-based lexical decision task designed to measure levels of short-term priming at varying levels of long-term priming. It was anticipated that if the priming components represented two distinctly different processes, a change in the level of long-term priming should not influence the obtainable level of short-term priming when other factors are held constant. The results demonstrated that changes in long-term priming were typically accompanied by changes in short-term priming (p < .05). Results were interpreted as support for existing single-process models of priming.

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