Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Craig Speelman


When a stimulus such as a word is presented twice, the identification of the word on the second presentation is usually facilitated, reflecting repetition priming. This facilitation can occur without a person's awareness and is often referred to as reflecting implicit memory. The present study investigated the effects of number of presentations of words and the context in which words were presented on repetition priming. The study measured reaction times on a lexical decision task in which the participants decided whether a string of letters constituted a word or a non-word. Repetition priming on this task was determined by comparing the reaction times of words presented previously ('old' words) to words not previously encountered ('new' words). 60 participants completed the experiment which involved five phases, each comprising a 'study' block and a 'test' block. In each 'study' block a passage containing target words (presented once or four times) was presented. Lexical decisions were then made on isolated words presented during the 'test' block and comprised: (1)'old' words (words previously presented in the passage once; words previously presented in the passage four times; words presented in isolation once and words presented in isolation four times); (2) 'new' words presented once only in each phase; and (3) non words. Results showed the repetition priming of words was sensitive to the context of presentation - words previously presented in the passage resulted in significantly less repetition priming than words which were presented in isolation. A greater amount of priming was observed when words were presented four times in both the passage and isolation conditions, compared to one presentation. Accuracy priming on the lexical decision task was significantly higher in words presented in the passage than in isolation. Different amounts of priming observed in the text-word and word-word transitions from study to test are discussed in terms of the information processing view of repetition priming. An explanation based on Kirsner and Speelman's (1996) model of lexical processing is presented to accommodate the findings. The study also addresses the issue of whether the results of priming studies using isolated words are generaliseble to reading contexts.