Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 33–43 | Cite as

No evidence for subliminal affective priming with emotional facial expression primes

  • Victoria Andrews
  • Ottmar V. LippEmail author
  • Kimberley M. Mallan
  • Sabine König
Original Paper


The present study investigated whether facial expressions of emotion presented outside consciousness awareness will elicit evaluative responses as assessed in affective priming. Participants were asked to evaluate pleasant and unpleasant target words that were preceded by masked or unmasked schematic (Experiment 1) or photographic faces (Experiments 1 and 2) with happy or angry expressions. They were either required to perform the target evaluation only or to perform the target evaluation and to name the emotion expressed by the face prime. Prime-target interval was 300 ms in Experiment 1 and 80 ms in Experiment 2. Naming performance confirmed the effectiveness of the masking procedure. Affective priming was evident after unmasked primes in tasks that required naming of the facial expressions for schematic and photographic faces and after unmasked primes in tasks that did not require naming for photographic faces. No affective priming was found after masked primes. The present study failed to provide evidence for affective priming with masked face primes, however, it indicates that voluntary attention to the primes enhances affective priming.


Affective priming Facial expressions of emotion Subliminal priming Attention 



Grant DP0770844 from the Australian Research Council supported this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Andrews
    • 1
  • Ottmar V. Lipp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kimberley M. Mallan
    • 1
  • Sabine König
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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