Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Semantic interpretability does not influence masked priming effects

Tseng, Hayley; Lindsay, Shane; Davis, Colin J.


Hayley Tseng

Colin J. Davis


Much of the recent masked nonword priming literature demonstrates no difference in priming between affixed and non-affixed nonword primes (e.g., maskity-MASK vs. maskond-MASK). A possible explanation for the absence of a difference is that studies have used affixed primes which were semantically uninterpretable. Therefore, this explanation indicates semantic interpretability plays a fundamental role in masked priming. To test this account, we conducted an experiment using the masked priming paradigm in the lexical decision task. We compared responses with targets which were preceded by one of four primes types: (1) interpretable affixed nonwords (e.g., maskless-MASK), (2) uninterpretable affixed nonwords (e.g., maskity-MASK), (3) non-affixed nonwords (e.g., maskond-MASK), and (4) unrelated words (e.g., tubeful-MASK). Our results follow the trend of finding no difference between affixed and non-affixed primes. Critically, however, we observed no difference in priming between uninterpretable and interpretable affixed primes. Thus, our results suggest that semantic interpretability does not influence masked priming.


Tseng, H., Lindsay, S., & Davis, C. J. (2020). Semantic interpretability does not influence masked priming effects. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(6), 856-867.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 24, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 7, 2019
Publication Date 2020-06
Deposit Date Dec 21, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 23, 2019
Journal Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Print ISSN 1747-0218
Electronic ISSN 1747-0226
Publisher SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Issue 6
Pages 856-867
Keywords Semantic interpretability; Masked priming; Morphological processing; Visual word recognition; Lexical decision
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations