Association and the Mechanisms of Priming

Volume 20
Issue 3
Mike Dacey
In psychology, increasing interest in priming has brought with it a revival of associationist views. Association seems a natural explanation for priming: simple associative links carry subcritical levels of activation from representations of the prime stimulus to representations of the target stimulus. This then facilitates use of the representation of the target. I argue that the processes responsible for priming are not associative. They are more complex. Even so, associative models do get something right about how these processes behave. As a result, I argue, we should reconsider how we interpret associative models, taking them to identify regularities in the sequence of representational states in any kind of process, rather than as denoting a particular kind of process.

Keywords: Psychology, Associationism, Priming, Learning, Psychological Modeling, Explanation