Psychological Research

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 92–101 | Cite as

The effect of a masked stimulus on the response to the masking stimulus

  • Werner Klotz
  • Peter WolffEmail author
Original Article


Four experiments are reported in which the subjects had to respond to a target that masked a preceding prime via metacontrast masking. In one part of Experiment l, the subjects discriminated the target's shape (square or diamond) by a motor-choice reaction, and in another part they had to respond with a simple reaction. The prime was neutral (circular) with respect to the target's shape. The data showed a facilitation effect. In both tasks the reaction time was reduced by the masked prime. However, the reduction was more pronounced with simple reaction than with choice reaction. In the other experiments, additional primes were used with the same angular shapes as the targets. In Experiments 2 and 3, after discriminating the target's shape by a choice reaction, the subjects had to judge the prime's shape in a signal-detection task. While neither the d' value for discriminating the angular primes from the circular ones (Exp. 2) nor the d' value for distinguishing between the angular primes (Exp. 3) was different from zero, the choice-reaction data showed a congruency effect. With a congruent prime (i.e., a prime that had the same shape as the target), the reaction times were reduced. With an incongruent prime, the reaction times grew. In Experiment 4 the errors were investigated. The facilitation effect was present in the RT, but not in the number of errors, whereas the congruency effect was present in the number, but not in the RT of errors.

While the facilitation effect can be attributed either to an unspecific activation by the masked prime or to an influence of the prime on attentional processes, the congruency effect can be explained by the assumption that the masked prime directly activates the specific response, which corresponds to the prime's shape.


Reaction Time Specific Response Congruency Effect Facilitation Effect Attentional Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Fachbereich PsychologieUniversität OsnabrückOsnabrückGermany

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