Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Unconscious integration of sequentially presented subliminal arrow pointing directions

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This study investigated whether participants could process the same/different pointing relation between two sequentially displayed subliminal arrows in a prime across a window of time.


The motor-response priming was distinguished from the visual feature priming. Of the two types of priming, only the motor-response priming could reflect an unconscious integrated processing of the pointing directions of two arrows. In two experiments, the two masked arrows pointing in the same or different directions (e.g., > > or > <) were presented sequentially at different spatial locations in the prime, followed by two arrows also pointing in the same or different directions in the target. A fixed interstimulus interval (ISI) of 50 ms was used between the prime and the target but two ISIs (0 and 32 ms) were used between the presentations of the two prime arrows. In Experiment 1, two prime arrows were presented sequentially one immediately after the other. In Experiment 2, the ISI between the two prime arrows was extended to 32 ms. In addition, due to its moderate power, Experiment 2 was replicated using another group of participants.


The results of Experiment 1 did not show any visual priming effect, but revealed a strong positive reaction time (RT)/accuracy motor-response priming effect. The results of Experiment 2 and its replicated version revealed moderate positive RT motor-response priming effects when the two target arrows were pointing in the same directions.


Overall, the study indicated that the pointing relation of two subliminally and sequentially displayed arrows could be processed only when the two arrows were presented extremely close in time.


© 2019 The Australian Psychological Society

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Aust J Psychol.