Memory & Cognition

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 956–961 | Cite as

Priming in a free association task as a function of association directionality

  • René Zeelenberg
  • Richard M. Shiffrin
  • Jeroen G. W. Raaijmakers


Two experiments investigated priming in free association, a conceptual implicit memory task. The stimuli consisted of bidirectionally associated word pairs (e.g.,beach-sand) and unidirectionally associated word pairs that have no association from the target response back to the stimulus cue (e.g.,bone-dog). In the study phase, target words (e.g.,sand, dog) were presented in an incidental learning task. In the test phase, participants generated an associate to the stimulus cues (e.g.,beach, bone). In both experiments, priming was obtained for targets (e.g.,sand) that had an association back to the cue, butnot for targets (e.g.,dog) for which such a backward association was absent. These results are problematic for theoretical accounts that attribute priming in free association to the strengthening oftarget responses. It is argued that priming in free association depends on the strengthening of cuetargetassociations.


Target Word Journal ofExperimental Psychology Study Phase Implicit Memory Free Association 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • René Zeelenberg
    • 1
  • Richard M. Shiffrin
    • 2
  • Jeroen G. W. Raaijmakers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychonomicsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityBloomington

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