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Priming

Definition

Priming is the process by which perception (or experience) of an item (or person or event) leads to an increase in its accessibility and the accessibility of related material and behaviors. Priming is a phenomenon that is enormously influential in people's everyday lives, yet people are typically unaware of its operation and impact. For example, if you pass a telephone and it reminds you to call your mother, priming is at work. If middle-aged women make you feel nervous after watching Desperate Housewives, once again priming can be blamed. Priming is particularly important in social psychology because of the inherent complexity of social information processing—when many interpretations and behavioral options are available, the accessibility determined by priming can constrain perception, cognition, and action.

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