A matter of design: priming context and person perception

C. Neil Macrae, Jasmin Cloutier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


A matter of considerable debate is whether people spontaneously use categorical knowledge (i.e., stereotypes) to guide their interactions with others. Despite initial evidence for the unconditional automaticity of category activation, recent research has identified a range of factors that moderate this process. Extending this line of inquiry, the current investigation explored the extent to which contextual influences-specifically the order in which priming stimuli are presented to participants-may modulate person categorization. Using a standard semantic-priming paradigm to index category and stereotype activation, participants were presented with priming stimuli that were either intermixed or blocked by sex. The results revealed that: (i) category and stereotype activation are moderated by the order in which priming stimuli are presented; and (ii) priming effects decrease monotonically as a function of category repetition. The theoretical implications of these findings are considered. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1015
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date4 May 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • person perception
  • automaticity
  • category activation
  • priming
  • stereotype activation
  • semantic satiation
  • category
  • prejudice
  • memory
  • distinctiveness
  • thinking
  • words
  • goals
  • time


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