Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 907–913 | Cite as

Is semantic activation from print capacity limited? Evidence from the psychological refractory period paradigm

Brief Report


A widely accepted belief across a range of subfields in psychology is that print activates semantics “automatically” in some sense. One such sense is that activating semantics does not require capacity. This view is assessed here in the context of the Psychological Refractory Period (PRP) paradigm because it provides a way of determining whether semantic activation requires a form of capacity. Task 1 was tone classification. Task 2 was Stroop color naming. The distractors consisted of color words on some trials (e.g., BLUE), and semantic associates on others (e.g., TOMATO). Both types of distractors yielded a pattern of data inconsistent with the widespread view that semantic activation is capacity free.


Semantic Activation Automaticity Stroop Psychological refractory period 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognition and Perception Unit (CPU), Psychology DepartmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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