A pre-existing self-referential anchor is not necessary for self prioritisation

Naomi Anne Lee* (Corresponding Author), Douglas Martin, Jie Sui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Self-prioritisation effect (SPE) has consistently occurred in perceptual matching tasks in which neutral stimuli are paired with familiar labels representing different identities (e.g., triangle-Self, square-Friend). Participants are faster and more accurate at judging self-related shape-label pairings than the pairings associated with others. Much evidence has suggested that the SPE is driven by the self acting as an integrative hub that enhances stimulus processing (e.g., triangle). However, there is a growing debate as to whether the SPE is genuine or determined by the labels (e.g., ‘me’, ‘you’) being pre-existing self-referential anchor points. We investigated this in an adapted perceptual matching task in which participants were instructed to associate arbitrary stimulus pairs (visual features: shape and colour) with different people and then immediately carried out a colour-shape matching task. The results showed the standard pattern of the SPE in this perceptual matching task without familiar labels, indicating that the effect is not critically dependent on familiar labels. Further analysis revealed that the SPE emerged only when the complete shape-colour pairing was presented rather than individual elements (self-shape or self-colour). The theoretical implications of these findings are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103362
Number of pages7
JournalActa Psychologica
Early online date14 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2019-010).


  • Self-prioritisation effect
  • Perceptual matching
  • Self
  • Integrative self
  • Conjunction model


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