Many studies using masking paradigm have shown that stimuli can be processed unconsciously. However, different researchers put forward different ideas about the mechanisms of the unconscious information processing. For example, one idea is that the unconscious information might be derived from a partial awareness of the masked stimulus. Another idea is that it is derived from a perceptual interaction between a masked stimulus and the masking stimulus. We used a masking paradigm (with a briefly displayed target followed by a mask) and a subjective rating and an objective forced-choice test (with a word and picture version) given after the display to study the nature of partial awareness. The question we attempted to answer was whether people did perceive fragmentary features of a masked object picture correctly when they rated it as partially perceivable. The results showed that even when the masked stimuli only had simple features and when the subjects subjectively reported that they could perceive something of the masked stimuli, the objective forced-choice test performance was at chance level. The results were discussed in the context of interaction hypothesis and level of processing hypothesis.
Guo, Jiangong; Jou, Jerwen; Cui, Qian; Zhao, Guang; and Tu, Shen, "Pure Partial Awareness or Interaction between the Mask and the Masked Stimuli?" (2016). Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations. 19.
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