Comparing repetition priming in words and arithmetic equations: robust and comparable priming is resistant to feature changes and relies on empirically sound design and analysis
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Previous studies have shown that stimulus repetition can lead to reliable behavioural improvements. Although this repetition priming (RP) effect has been reported in a number of paradigms using a variety of stimuli including words, objects, faces, and scenes only a few studies have investigated mathematical cognition involving arithmetic computation, and no prior research has directly compared RP effects in a linguistic task with an arithmetic task. In five experiments, between- and within-subjects designs were used to draw comparisons between a word and an arithmetic categorisation task. In a study-test block paradigm, stimuli were repeated identically to compare the magnitude of RP, and colour and response hand were manipulated to compare the effects of feature changes for repeated, otherwise identical, stimuli. In the same experiments, the merits of using the relative-difference or absolute-difference method of analysis was also investigated. The results show that the magnitude of RP was comparable between the two tasks, and that changing the colour or the response hand had a negligible effect on priming in either task. These results extended previous findings in mathematical cognition. They also indicate that priming does not vary with stimulus domain. The implications of the results were discussed with reference to both facilitation of component processes and episodic memory retrieval of stimulus-response binding. The results also indicate that, unless a fully randomised experimental design is used, the absolute-difference method of analysis may produce biased results that provide only a weak basis for drawing empirical conclusions.